MARSHALL, Texas – James Bowie baseball coach Eddie May was growing gray hair with each pitch Thursday night at Woods Field on the campus of East Texas Baptist University.
Pirate senior Evan Barron threw 92 pitches in Thursday’s first game with Shelbyville, which the Bucs won, 2-1, in the Region III-2A series. Barron finished with a 3-hitter, and had 18 pitches left in the best-of-three series. He used 16 of them for the final two outs in Thursday’s finale, also won by James Bowie, 7-1.
James Bowie will play Linden-Kildare for the Region III championship next week. The winner of that game, or series, will advance to the 2A state tournament in Austin. Woden beat L-K Thursday night, 7-2. The Tigers roared back to win 9-6 and 8-2 on Saturday.
Shelbyville coaches might be thinking the Pirates won the regional semifinal title in the first inning of the second game. Winning pitcher Whitt Rogers walked the first three batters he faced on 13 pitches. The crafty right-hander got the first out on a popup to Barron at shortstop. The next batter popped out to second, and the Dragon baserunner at third was gunned down at the plate after tagging for a doubleplay.
Pirates’ defense supports Rogers’ pitching
Rogers was brilliant from that point until the fifth, getting outstanding defensive play from his teammates.
“I was close to taking Whitt off the mound in the first inning,” said May. “That’s not the first time he’s struggled in the first. Sometimes it just takes him a while to get going. I knew if he would just throw strikes our defense would be behind him. That’s what he did, and we made some plays behind him. It’s a testament to our kids and how they’ve worked on their defense this year.
“We know Evan can throw the ball hard, and Whitt pitches to contact. That’s one reason I wanted to play two games tonight. We were fortunate that Evan only threw 92 pitches in the first game. There at the very end Evan only had two pitches left. I was asking myself if I should bring Whitt back, or go to Cason Braley if another batter came up. ”
Barron made a spectacular sliding catch against the fence behind third for the first out in the fifth inning. The Pirates’ only error of the game followed, and back-to-back singles by Kolby Parker and Trevor Wilburn gave Shelbyville a 1-0 lead.
Shelbyville (23-7) pitcher Zack Clark retired the first 11 Pirates in the game, but ran into trouble in the sixth when Barron doubled to right-center to ignite a seven-run uprising. Rogers then walked, with both runners moving up on Brandon Obenoskey’s fly to right. Evan Williams came in to run for Rogers with two outs, both James Bowie runners scoring on Zane DeBerry’s single to center.
That led to a pitching change, which turned into batting practice for the Pirates. Barron plated the sixth and seventh runs with a single to right.
Barron a hero on mound, at plate
Barron’s heroics were hardly over. When the first two Dragons got on base in the bottom of the seventh, May decided it was time to put his hard-throwing senior back on the mound with one out. Remember, he only had 18 pitches of eligibility left, and only 12 after walking the first batter he faced to load the bases. He used six of those pitches to strikeout the next batter, and had two left when he got a grounder to second for the game’s final out.
In the opener, the Pirates scored their only two runs in the first inning off of University of Houston recruit Kolby Parker. Dalton McBride walked on a 3-2 offering to start James Bowie’s first inning, and Barron singled to center. Both runners moved up on a grounder to second. DeBerry drove in McBride with a slow grounder to first. Parker struck out the next batter, but the ball got under his glove, allowing Barron to score.
James Bowie (18-4) had only three baserunners against Parker after that, which was good enough for Barron.
The Dragons scored their only run in the sixth after two Pirate errors. Kaleb Campbell singled home Cole Ferguson. Barron escaped further damage with the ninth of his 10 strikeouts.