WAXAHACHIE — After being on the verge of the state tournament, the thing that kept Dodd City out of the final four was the defending champion.
Matthew Urbanovsky threw a three-hit shutout and Abbott continued its quest to repeat after sweeping the Hornets with a 5-0 victory in the Class 1A Region II final at Richards Park on Saturday afternoon.
Abbott (21-9) advances to the state tournament at Dell Diamond in Round Rock. The Panthers will play in a semifinal at either 9 a.m. or noon on June 6 against an opponent to be determined from Slocum, New Home and Fayetteville.
Dodd City (12-12) needed a win to force a deciding Game 3 after losing the series opener 15-4. It was still the best season for the program since reaching the 2A state tournament in 2012.
“It’s a great experience for these young ones,” Dodd City head coach Gary Cosper said. “We had a lot of ninth and 10th-graders on the field. To play against a really good team and be competitive, that’s what you like to see.”
The Hornets managed just three base runners against Urbanovsky, who gave up just the three hits, hit two batters, struck out eight with no walks and retired 13 of the final 15 he faced. He also went 3-for-4 and scored twice out of the leadoff spot.
“He’s talented,” Copser said. “He pitched very well and when we did hit it, it wasn’t in the right places.”
Dodd City put only two runners in scoring position. The first came in a scoreless game in the top of the second inning when Jason Turner had a one-out infield single to third base and took second when the throw to first went into foul territory.
Brayden Vaught had a two-out single to center in the third and Aaron Munger led off the fifth by getting hit by a pitch. The only other base runners came with two outs in the seventh when Munger was hit by a pitch and Zayne Kennon singled to right.
In the fourth inning, the Panthers scored twice for a 5-0 advantage. Urbanovsky singled and scored from first on Kadyn Johnson’s double into the left-field corner. Brandon Brown had a sacrifice fly to right center and a base-running error on the play led to the second out and cleared the bases.
Abbott loaded the bases with two outs on a pair of walks and an error but Clayton Dockery managed to escape that jam.
Abbott took a 3-0 lead in the third. Urbanovsky opened the inning with a single to right and Johnson followed with a double to left. Hunter Pope drove in a run with a groundout to third and Johnson scored on an error.
After Dockery retired the first five Panthers to start the game, Abbott used the bottom of the lineup to get on the board. Consecutive singles by Jax Miller, Daylan Schulz and Reece Bailey produced a 1-0 lead.
The margin stayed there because Turner made a diving catch towards the left-field line to not only to rob Nolan Kaska of extra bases and end the inning but keep two runs from scoring on the play.
“Everybody in their lineup can hit,” Cosper said. “There’s a reason they’re going back to state. We competed really well. Clayton Dockery competed well on the mound.”