The Rusk Eagles punched their ticket to the 4A state baseball championship game with a semi-final victory over the Sinton Pirates by a final score of 6 - 3.
Sinton brought an impressive 33 - 4 record into the game compared to Rusk's 27 - 7 record. All the hype just prior to the game had Sinton as a favorite to win. In speaking with Rusk's Coach Ross McMurry prior to the 4:00 pm first pitch, he acknowledged the Sinton was a good team. He felt confident in his team's abilities to defeat the Pirates behind the strong arm of J. D. Thompson and the Eagles strong offensive bats. His prediction was the winner would be the team who makes the least mistakes and he felt comfortable about his team's chances.
Rusk wasted no time in scoring two runs in the first inning with Bryce Lenard getting on base with a one out double. Landon Gates was "hit by a pitch" issuing him a free pass to first base. Both runners advanced bases on a balk by Sinton zpitcher Wyatt Wiatrek. Wade Williams then drives his first pitch into the outfield gap for a double scoring both Lenard and Gates. Rusk led by a score of 2 - 0.
Sinton countered in the bottom of the first inning with two runs of their own.
Thompson walked the leadoff batter, then a triple by Ryan Galvan scored the base
runner. Blake Mitchell then doubles scoring Galvan from third base and the score is
tied 2 - 2 at the end of the first inning.
Rusk picked up another run in the second inning. With two outs, back to back
singles by Lane Gilchriest and Will Dixon started a rally. Lenard is "hit by a
pitch" and the bases are loaded. The pitcher commits a throwing error in a pick off
attempt at second base and Gilchriest scores on the errant throw. Rusk now leads by
a score of 3 - 2.
In the fourth inning, Rusk scores again. Designated hitter Zack Blackmon leads off
with a single. Gilchriest lays down a perfect sacrifice bunt advancing Blackmon to
scoring position. Sinton's relief pitcher Braeden Brown commits a balk and Blackmon
is now awarded third base. Lenard picks up the RBI hitting into a fielder's choice
scoring Blackmon. Rusk now leads by a score of 4 - 2.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Sinton picks up a run with leadoff hitter Daniel
Trevino hits into the outfield gap for a double. J. D. Thompson is then called for
a balk advancing Trevino to third base. Jaquae Stewart then hits a sacrifice fly to
left field scoring Trevino. Rusk now leads by a score of 4 - 3.
Neither team is able to score in the fifth or sixth inning.
In the top of the seventh inning, Rusk scores twice. Brown hits two Rusk batters
with pitches putting runners on first and second base. With two outs, Brett
Rawlinson and Blackmon get back to back singles each picking up an RBI. Rusk now
leads by a score of 6 - 3.
In the bottom half of the seventh inning, J. D. Thompson reaches his maximum number
of pitches allowed, after getting the first Sinton batter to ground out to
shortstop. Mason Cirkel comes in to relieve Thompson from right field and gets the
next two Sinton batters out securing the win and picking up the save.
In the other semi-final played earlier, Pleasant Grove defeated Stephenville by a
score of 13 - 0 in five innings.
Rusk will play Pleasant Grove Thursday at 6:30 pm for the 4A state baseball