The Burnet High School baseball team will enter the Class 4A playoffs with some momentum after earning a 10-6 win against Austin McCallum April 30.
That victory came on the heels of losing to Lake Belton 15-5 in six innings April 29 to end the District 19-4A crusade.
The Bulldogs (11-13-1, 7-8) now focus on La Grange, their bi-district opponent in a three-game series all played at Hutto High School, 101 FM 685 in Hutto. Games one and two are at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, May 5-6, and game three, if necessary, is at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 7.
“It was a big game for us to recapture the momentum of winning before we go into the playoffs,” Burnet head coach Russell Houston said. “You always want to go in with a win.”
Houston scheduled the non-district game against McCallum for three reasons: as a warm-up for the playoffs, to help his athletes get used to playing on a Saturday, and to give pitchers not used to throwing much a chance at live action.
“We started a freshman, Matthew Valdez, on the mound for us,” the coach said. “He threw well for us.”
In four innings Valdez struck out four. Dash Denton also threw, striking out two in 2.2 innings.
The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead in the first inning and steadily added to it, scoring two in the top of the third inning and three in the top of the fifth inning. The Knights responded with a five spot in the bottom of the fifth inning to trim the deficit to 7-6. But Burnet plated three runs in the sixth inning. In all, the Bulldogs scored 10 runs off 11 hits and had 1 error. Meanwhile, McCallum scored 6 runs off 6 hits and committed 6 errors.
Denton led Burnet with 2 RBIs, while Jesse Bachmayer and Boden Savage each had 1 apiece. Tanner O’Hair, Noah Crawford and Kurt Kassner each had 2 hits.
Against Lake Belton the Bulldogs led 3-0 after two innings before the Broncos reeled off six runs — four coming off a grand slam — in the third inning to score all the runs they needed for the victory. Lake Belton recorded 11 total hits and Burnet had four errors. Bulldogs pitcher Clayton Zinz was credited with the loss and gave up a home run for the first time while wearing kelly green.
“Lake Belton is a good team,” Houston said. “We didn’t play badly on Friday. We started all our seniors and got our seniors in. We had a lead and made a couple of errors in one inning and gave up a grand slam in that same inning. We’ll move on and get ready for the playoffs. Our kids are excited.”
The coach hadn’t decided on a game one starter against Hutto. But he was confident about other aspects.
“Our kids are tough mentally,” he said. “I feel strong about where we are. There’s zero expectation on them. If we go play clean baseball, we’ll have a chance. I have kids who’ll go compete.”
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