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Mustangs earning close wins says plenty about the team

The Marble Falls High School baseball team has a 2-1 record in the Hill Country Classic tournament going into the final day of the event on Saturday, March 5, while the Burnet Bulldogs are 1-2.

The Bulldogs welcome TMI at 10:30 a.m. at Bulldog Diamonds, 1000 The Green Mile, while Marble Falls travels to play Fredericksburg at 11:30 a.m. at Yellow Jacket Field on the Llano High School campus, 2509 Texas 16 in Llano.

The Mustangs began the tournament with a 3-2 win against Johnson City on March 3 and split games on March 4: a 9-4 victory against Burnet and a 17-0 loss to Blanco. The Bulldogs earned a 7-6 triumph against Johnson City on March 3 and an 8-0 setback to Blanco on March 4.

The Burnet County matchup was the most anticipated on March 4. The Mustangs got off to a hot start, plating 4 runs in the first inning, including a two-run homer by Isaias Roman. After holding the Bulldogs scoreless in the bottom half of the inning, Marble Falls scored 2 more runs in the second inning for a 6-0 advantage.

“Roman has been our best bat this year,” head coach Tyler Porter said. “He had a home run in the second inning (against Johnson City).”

During the middle of the second inning, Burnet head coach Houston Russell gathered his players and reminded them they had five more innings to play.

“There’s a lot of baseball left,” he recalled saying.

And the Bulldogs responded by slowly chipping away at the lead: 1 run in the third and fourth innings and 2 in the fifth while holding the Mustangs scoreless.

Then Marble Falls senior pitcher Hudson McBryde gave up only 1 more run, in the sixth, before junior Brady Elwartwoski took over in the final inning where he struck out two batters and forced the third to hit into a 6-3 groundout. McBryde gave up 5 earned runs off 5 hits and struck out six.

“He’s competitive,” Porter said of Elwartowski. “Hopefully we’ll build on that. (What we got from McBryde) is what we expect out of him.”

Before grabbing their bats for the final inning, Russell implored the Bulldogs to dig deep and believe they could complete the comeback.

“The kids have been in the system for four years,” he said. “They’ve learned how to compete and learned how to battle.”

Burnet pitcher Ralston Vance was credited with the loss. In five innings, he recorded two strikeouts.

Both coaches noted the game had all the elements of a good rivalry.

“Marble Falls played well,” Houston said. “They got up and played with a lot of confidence. I thought our kids battled back.”

“It’s good for us,” Porter said. “It shows we’re toughening up. We go out there and get the big hits and smart base running. You get 2 runs and you feel like you’re up by 10. What we still have to grow is the mental aspect and make adjustments.”

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