PLANO — Sherman’s seniors gave it their all on Saturday to try to keep their high school careers alive — from Jack LeCrone’s pair of majestic home runs, to David Bedgood’s mound performance in Game 2, to Brayshon Savage’s one running catch after another in centerfield.
In the end, however, the Bearcats couldn’t match the depth of the defending Class 5A state champions.
After forcing a third game with a 6-3 win earlier in the day, the Bearcats rallied late but saw their year come to a close in an 11-5 loss to Grapevine in the finale of a 5A Region I area-round series at John Paul II High School.
“We just didn’t have enough,” Sherman head coach Justin Jennings said. “They’re a good club, and they have a lot of good arms. We knew it would be a battle for us in Game 3, and we knew we were going to have to score quite a bit because we were pretty thin at that point.”
Boone Montgomery, a Texas-Arlington signee, mostly shut the Bearcats down before tiring in the sixth, but got the win for the Mustangs, who advance to face Aledo in the Region I quarterfinals.
The Bearcats (21-12) were forced to use five different pitchers in the final game after Bedgood scattered six hits in a complete-game win in Game 2.
“We’ve got to develop more pitching,” Jennings said. “We’ve got to get better and develop some arm strength and get stronger. That’s something going into the offseason we’ve got to get better about.”
Harrison Key, who threw 47 pitches in relief in Game 1 Friday, got the ball to start Game 3 and pitched two shutout innings, but allowed three runs in a five-inning top of the third that gave the Mustangs (27-9) the lead for good.
Blaine Bethel, LeCrone, Nick Blankenship and Trey Holtzclaw followed Key to the mound. Until the seventh, they limited the damage and gave the Bearcats a chance to rally.
In the sixth, trailing 7-2, LeCrone led off with his second homer of the day to left. One out later, Holtzclaw and Connor Hughes hit back-to-back singles and moved up 90 feet on a grounder for the second out. A throwing error off the bat of Key scored a run to keep the rally alive, and freshman Ethan Bedgood doubled in a run to make it 7-5.
“The kids did a great job,” Jennings said. “We got to 7-5 there and got the bases loaded and had Savage up, and I was thinking we were about to tie this up.”
After David Bedgood was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Savage hit one into the hole at short. But Grapevine’s Connor Neuman got to it and threw to second for the force, ending the inning.
The Mustangs then put the game way with a four-run top of the seventh, taking control of the game and the series.
Earlier Saturday, the senior Bedgood went the distance, scattering six hits as Sherman knotted the series. Bedgood was helped by some timely hits, including a two-run bomb by LeCrone in the bottom of the first that put the Bearcats ahead to stay and started a four-run inning helped by a two-run error off the bat of Ben Cross — one of three in the inning by Grapevine, and five total in the game.
Bedgood ran into trouble in the third, putting the first five Grapevine batters aboard, but escaped with only two runs allowed. Hughes threw out a runner trying to score from second on an infield single.
Holtzclaw singled home two insurance runs in the fifth to round out the scoring.
On Friday night, the series opened with Grapevine winning, 4-0, as Neuman, who has signed with Louisiana Tech, pitched a four-hit shutout. Two of the hits were by Savage, who batted 2-for-3.
“Last night it should’ve been 2-0 at worst, but we had a play at second, and going back and watching it, they got the call wrong so it should’ve been 2-1,” Jennings said. “It wasn’t, but we felt after last night pretty confident that David could beat them (in Game 2). We knew we’d get into a slugfest in Game 3, and we just didn’t have enough.”
The book closes on the high school careers of six Bearcat seniors — Bedgood, LeCrone, Savage, Hughes, Bethel, and Chace Fulton, who started all three games in rightfield.
“All those kids played well for us,” Jennings said. “They played well for us for four years. I told them I appreciate everything they’ve done for us and our program. They helped pave the way moving into the future. They’ll be very difficult to replace.”
The Bearcats will be a younger team next spring with only three juniors who will become seniors — Cross, Holtzclaw and Key — plus a crop of even younger players who hold lots of promise for the future.
“The juniors were huge for us this year,” Jennings said. “They were every bit as good as those older kids. We’ve got some holes to fill, but the expectation is to be a contender every year and that’s not going to change.”