The Marble Falls High School baseball team earned a 2-2 record at the Hill Country Classic hosted by Llano and Burnet high schools March 2-4. The Mustangs exploded for 35 runs in wins against Pleasanton at 18-8 and against Llano at 17-5. The losses were to Fredericksburg 14-5 and to Elgin 9-3.
After Pleasanton took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, Marble Falls (4-3) scored eight runs in the second and third innings for a 16-1 lead. The Eagles scored two runs in the fourth, but the Mustangs got the runs back in the fifth. Marble Falls junior Evan Nickowski had 4 RBIs, while seniors Bryce Atkinson and Jake Carter each had three. The Mustangs pulled up freshman pitcher Atreyu Machacek to throw in this contest.
Both Llano and Marble Falls were tied at 5-5 going into the fourth inning. That’s when the Mustangs scored 12 runs for the victory. Junior Davis Dreisbach and senior Kyle Curtis each had 3 RBIs, while sophomore Mark Villalobos had two.
Fredericksburg scored 13 runs in the first, second and third innings and finished the game with 11 hits.
Elgin took a 4-0 lead by the second inning, but the Mustangs scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning to trim the deficit. Marble Falls had four errors in the contest.
The Mustangs will take momentum into their District 24-4A opener against Lampasas at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, at Scearce Field on the Marble Falls High School campus.
“I like the district,” head coach Tyler Porter said. “We got out of what I honestly believe is the toughest Class 5A district in the state. I feel like we competed well. And this (District 24-4A) is a better fit.”
Most teams in District 24-4A mirror each other in enrollment and the number of players at each position available to them. Marble Falls typically relies on its starting pitchers to play at least five innings because depth at that position always was a challenge. Meanwhile, District 25-5A members needed their starters to throw for about three innings if they were in the zone. If not, when some were having an off night, those teams had enough quality pitchers to rotate every inning if needed.
As for the new district, Porter echoed what the football and boys basketball coaches have said.
“I’ve seen almost everybody play,” he said. “Everybody has a chance to beat everybody. There are no games we can’t win and no games we can’t lose.”
Just like Marble Falls, Lago Vista is a new member. Other members are Burnet, Georgetown Gateway, Jarrell and Lampasas.
Lago Vista (8-1) played in two playoff series as a Class 3A member last season. Burnet lost to LaGrange and Lampasas lost to Iowa Park in bi-district series.
Most of the district members are entering the district campaign with winning records.
To Porter, pitching remains a big key no matter the level of baseball.
“Who can show command and pound the zone and throw strikes?” he said. “I think this year, hitting and defense can carry us far. We can’t give up freebies through errors or walks. Our defense will give us a shot to win every game.”
And that’s because of the number of returners led by seniors Bryce Atkinson, Jake Carter, Cale Cochran, Brady Elwartowski and A.J. Scovil.
“We have six really good seniors,” the coach said. “This is my fourth year, and I’m the only high school coach they’ve had. They all hang out together, and they like each other.”
Porter noted the Mustangs haven’t had their nine best hitters in the same lineup so far this season and believes that will change as district play begins.
Still, he was encouraged by what he saw at the Hill Country Classic, particularly in the 18-9 win against Pleasanton, which reached the second round of the playoffs last year.
Being in a new district facing new opponents also brings another change. Each member will face each other three times during the district season.
“I love it,” Porter said. “I was one of the supporters who pushed for it. I think in baseball, the better teams want to play. Playing three times will benefit the better teams. In the other format, you might face a team’s ace twice.”
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