After splitting two close games Friday, the Clear Springs Chargers exploded for eight runs in the third inning Saturday to blow by the Humble Summer Creek Bulldogs and win Game 3 of their Region III-6A area round playoff series, 9-1.
“We talked about competing a little bit better at the plate and being more focused on what we were doing, and I think yesterday we were kind amped up a little bit, and we just put together some better at-bats today than we did yesterday,” Clear Springs head coach Chris Floyd said.
With the game tied at 1-1, the bottom of the third started with Bulldogs shortstop Nick Frady making a nice snag on a hard-hit liner, but in one of the few games in the area not affected by rain, the proverbial flood gates were about to open.
Nine-hole hitter Parker Lee began a run of six consecutive Chargers batters reaching base by knocking a single up the middle. After two stolen bases from Lee and a walk worked by Kai Woodard, Michael Cervantes served up the first RBI of the inning with a single.
Mason Schulz followed with an RBI single of his own, and Chase Arnaud walked to load the bases. Mason Knight walked to force a run home and push Clear Springs’ lead to 4-1. A passed ball on a swinging strikeout allowed Schulz to score, and a two-base error on a grounder to third saw two more runs score for a 7-1 advantage.
The Chargers continued to hit the ball hard after a Summer Creek pitching change, as Jacob Carpentier smashed an RBI single. Carpentier advanced to second base on the relay throw home and courtesy runner RJ Mata took third on a balk. Then Lee, who got things started, capped off the onslaught with an RBI single.
“Sometimes when you can just keep people on base, it’s uncomfortable for a pitcher, and I think that was the key” Floyd said. “We just kept putting good at-bats together and keeping people on base.”
Clear Springs made the most of a Chase Arnaud leadoff double in the bottom of the second, as he moved to third on a grounder to second and came home on an RBI sacrifice fly from Josh Barletta.
Summer Creek rebounded with a run in the top of the third when Dylan Smith led off with a single, advanced to third on an error, and then hustled home on an RBI sac fly from Andre Duplantier.
On the mound for the Chargers, Cervantes surrendered four hits and an unearned run in his first three innings of work, but held the Bulldogs hitless with two walks in his final three innings, finishing with three strikeouts in his win.
Kenny Garza worked past a leadoff single by retiring the next three batters to close things out, and he ended the game in style by freezing the final Bulldogs hitter on a strikeout looking.
Lee (2-for-3, one RBI, one run), Cervantes (2-for-4, one RBI, one run) and Schulz (2-for-4, one RBI, one run) had multi-hit games for the Chargers. Smith (2-for-4, one run) did the same for the Bulldogs.
Clear Springs will face Atascocita in the regional quarterfinals at a time, date and location to be determined.