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Johnson City baseball sweeps Granger to advance to area round

The Johnson City High School baseball team beat Granger 6-3 May 6 to sweep the Lions in the best-of-three bi-district series.

Next up for the Eagles (18-6, 12-0 District 28-2A champions) is Iola (7-1 District 26-2A third place) in the area round of the playoffs.

“From scouting reports I’ve gotten from different guys, their pitching isn’t like ours,” Johnson City head coach Steven Shipley said. “We feel we have an advantage on the mound. And not just with pitching. We think our guys can hit as well.”

Game one is at 7 p.m. Friday, May 12, while game two is at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 13, at Brenham High School.

“We had a hard time finding fields,” Shipley said. “We didn’t have good options. We wanted to play a series.”

The Eagles reached the second round of the playoffs by eliminating Granger during a contest that started at 5 p.m. and finished before the lightning and hail storm set in.

“It was hot. We battled,” the coach said.

Each team scored a run in the first inning that stood until the third when the Eagles put up five runs for a 6-1 advantage.

“We had some great opportunities to extend our lead,” Shipley said. “In the fourth inning, we had bases loaded. Tate Ledbetter hit a line drive their third baseman dove after it and saved a couple of runs. We thought that was going to break the game open. McCray Jacobs was on deck. I thought we could have turned that into a game ender.”

That kept Johnson City from extending the lead and forced the Eagles to strand nine runners throughout the contest.

Meanwhile the Lions scored two runs in the fourth.

Grant Gale led the Eagles with 2 RBIs off 2 hits, while Ryan Shipley had a RBI. Reid Weirich had 2 hits.

Meanwhile, sophomore pitcher Johnny Slawinski allowed 3 runs off 3 hits and had 17 strikeouts in seven innings.

“He gutted that one out,” the coach said. “He’d thrown 80 pitches after four innings. He was working hard to throw hard. After the fourth inning, we talked to him and told him to take a little bit off. Against their eight- and nine-hole hitters, you don’t have to throw 90 mph. Seventy-five percent from Johnny is better than anything they’ve seen. He went from 20 pitches in an inning to eight or nine an inning.”

To celebrate the start of the playoffs, the Eagles decided to bleach their hair blonde in a sign of unity.

“That’s something they talked about,” Shipley said. “That’s the personality of a fun group of our kids. Everybody jumped on board. It shows they’re excited about playing. There were a few who were reluctant and didn’t want to dye their hair. It’s been good. It’s one of those fun things. They didn’t want to shave their heads.”

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