The Stephenville High School baseball Yellow Jackets lost three of the five games they played in the Wimberley High School Tournament last weekend, but the players gained valuable experience against tougher competition than they had faced earlier in the season.
That’s according to SHS head baseball coach Justin Swenson, whose squad is now 8-4-1 overall, thanks in part to late-inning heroics in defeating Fredericksburg and Wimberly in the re-shaped round robin tournament.
Swenson said that the Jackets — along with all of the other SHS sports teams — are sidelined from both games and practice until at least March 30, if not later, because of the virus concerns. He noted that it’s unlikely that any of the games on the schedule between now and then will be rescheduled, but he is hoping the team will get to play its full remaining schedule.
Although the three-day event last weekend was not canceled because of the COVID-19 virus threat, the Jackets ended up playing two games against the host team.
Stephenville opened with a 6-4 loss to Wimberley on Thursday, which was reported in Saturday’s E-T.
On Friday the Jackets lost an 8-6 decision to St. Michael’s, then edged Fredericksburg, 11-10, thanks to a walkoff run-scoring single off the bat of Trace Morrison.
The Jackets then played Wimberley again, because another private school — Lutheran South Academy — pulled out of the tournament. That second matchup looked in doubt as the Jackets trailed 5-1 after the second inning, before scoring five runs of their own in the top of the fourth to take a 6-5 lead. But Wimberley grabbed a 6-5 lead in the bottom half of the frame.
That set the stage for a game-winning hit from Case Dunavant in the sixth as SHS pulled out an 8-6 victory.
Saturday’s second game paired the Jackets in a tough matchup against a highly-recruited pitcher from Llano, Justin Lange, whose fastball has been clocked in the upper 90s. Lange held the Jackets to two hits in the five-inning contest, striking out eight and walking two as Llano posted a 10-0 win.
“I was very impressed with the way we swung our bats,” Swenson said of the overall tournament. “We hit the ball well, but I was disappointed with the way we played defense. It was very good competition.”
Because of the high level of competition, Swenson said that the players gained more the Wimberley Tournament than they did in winning three games and tying one in the Kennedale Tournament the previous weekend.
“We got more out of it (Wimberley’s tournament),” Swenson said. “Our pitchers had to work harder, there were no easy innings. We got a lot out of the tournament.”
In the loss to St. Michael’s, SHS got runs batted in from Daniel Luna, Bryson Dill and Charlie Hughes. Dill and Morrison had two hits each.
Against Fredericksburg, Luna hit a two-run homer and drove in four runs, while Tyeler Reed hit a run-scoring double. Hughes was 2-for-3 and drove in a pair, while Reed, Morrison, John-Rex Haile, Dunavant, Caleb Smith and Lane West drove in one run each. Dill notched the pitching win with three frames in relief of Luna.
In the second matchup against Wimberley, on Saturday, Morrison was 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Dunavant, Dill and Hughes had two hits each. Reed, Dunavant, Morrison, Haile, Dill, Hughes, West and Kyle Styron drove in one run apiece. Morrison picked up the victory on the mound, pitching one inning in relief of Haile.
Morrison and Reed had the only two hits against Llano’s flamethrower, while Llano’s offense provided 10 hits against three SHS pitchers.