LITTLE ELM — After David Bedgood’s inside-the-park grand slam in the top of the second inning, the clinching moment was only a matter of time.
Not only did Bedgood deliver in a big way in that instance, he almost did it again in his next at-bat.
The Tulane University signee went 2-for-5 with a two-run triple in the fourth and a total of six runs batted in, and added five innings on the mound for the win as the postseason-ticketed Bearcats beat Denton Braswell, 10-4, on Thursday night.
“It’s the first time since my freshman year, so it feels good to be in (the playoffs),” Bedgood said. “We’re still chasing that No. 2 seed, though, so we’ve still got three (games) left.”
Sherman (15-10, 7-2) will play baseball in May for the first time since 2014, when Bedgood and his senior teammates were freshmen.
“It’s big for us,” Sherman head coach Justin Jennings said. “We haven’t had a ton of success since (the last time), but they’ve stayed the course and battled, and now it’s paying off for us.”
When the two teams last met in March, Sherman had to rally in the seventh inning at Veterans Field to pull out a 7-6 walkoff win. This time, the Bearcats were focused from the start.
“(Braswell is) tied for third but they’ve already beaten Denison, so we told our guys, hey, it’s a seeding game,” Jennings said. “They were one game behind us in the loss column and played us tough in the first round. They had a big win on Tuesday night (against Denton Ryan) and we knew they would be ready to go. And they did. They battled and battled.”
The Bearcats went quietly in the first and the first two batters were retired in the top of the second, and it looked like another nailbiter between the Bearcats and Bengals was brewing.
But freshman Ethan Bedgood started the two-out rally with a double to leftfield, then Connor Hughes was hit by a pitch. Harrison Key, who finished 2-for-4 in the nine-hole, batted into an error at third to load the bases, bringing up David Bedgood, who hit the ball deep, clearing the bases — and then 90 feet extra for his fifth round-tripper of the year and his third in four games.
“I had a full count and he threw me a pitch I could drive, and I hit it in the gap,” Bedgood said. “I didn’t see what happened after that. He kept waving me around and I ended up going all the way.”
The Cats weren’t done in the inning as Brayshon Savage followed with a double, chasing Braswell starter Alec Lawrence. The next batter, Jack LeCrone, hit a fly ball that was misplayed in right, allowing Savage to score to make it 5-0.
The Bengals (10-15, 4-4) briefly got back into the game with a three-run bottom of the third to cut the deficit to two, the only rough inning of the night that Bedgood had on the hill.
“They hit a couple of bloop shots here and there and they hit one ball hard,” Bedgood said. “I didn’t have my best stuff tonight and I’ve got to be better going forward, but it was good enough to get the win tonight.”
But the Bearcats replied immediately with three runs in the top of the fourth, with Bedgood almost circling the bases again with a deep ball to the fence in center, scoring Connor Hughes and Key. This time Bedgood stopped at third, but one out later LeCrone tripled him home to make it 8-3.
“The big thing was, when they scored, we responded,” Jennings said. “They scored three and we responded with three. I was very pleased with that.”
Sherman tacked on two more for good measure in the fifth, with Bengal errors off the bat of Hughes and Key resulting in runs after Ben Cross’ leadoff double.
Bedgood ended the night with four earned runs on seven hit in five frames of labor, striking out seven and walking one.
“(Braswell) hit David better than anybody has, even Rider last Friday night,” Jennings said. “Nobody has hit David like they did. They didn’t give it to us.”
Blaine Bethel relieved Bedgood in the sixth and retired six of seven batters faced with five strikeouts, including the last three batters in the seventh.
The Bearcats’ reaction after the playoff-clinching victory was surprisingly subdued, perhaps reflecting a business attitude considering their work is not finished yet.
“The number is 10-2,” Jennings said. “We were on the hunt for No. 1 and we didn’t get it done, but now it’s our goal to not lose another district ballgame and finish 10-2 and roll into the playoffs on a winning streak as a No. 2 seed. That’s our expectation.”
Sherman 10, Denton Braswell 4
Sherman 050 320 0 — 10 9 1
Braswell 003 010 0 — 4 9 5
WP — David Bedgood. LP — Alec Lawrence. 2B — Sherman: Ethan Bedgood, Brayshon Savage, Ben Cross; Braswell: Brant Bennett. 3B — Sherman: David Bedgood, Jack LeCrone. HR — Sherman: David Bedgood.
Records — Sherman 15-10, 7-2; Braswell 11-15, 4-4.