McKINNEY — It was just how the Yellow Jackets drew it up in the past. Now Denison will have to see if they can carry their elimination magic to the present with their future squarely at stake.
The expected pitching duel materialized, even though Frisco Lone Star didn’t use its ace, and the only run was scored in the first inning of a contest that barely lasted an hour and a half.
Christian Ruebeck did his part for Denison but Dylan De Leon held the Jackets to just three hits as Frisco Lone Star defeated Denison, 1-0, in Game 1 of a Class 5A Region II bi-district series at McKinney Boyd on Thursday night.
The Rangers (27-6) will look to advance to the area round with a win in Game 2 at 7 p.m. tonight while the Yellow Jackets (15-16) will try to force a deciding third game back at McKinney Boyd at noon on Saturday.
Denison lost the series opener in both of its first two rounds last season before rallying with wins in Games 2 and 3.
“Back to last year’s formula,” Jackets head coach Charles Bollinger said. “Just waiting for anything to happen and it didn’t pan out. We never put pressure on them.”
De Leon needed only 62 pitches and finished with eight strikeouts and no walks.
“He was really good. You gotta give him credit,” Bollinger said. “We didn’t help ourselves.”
Ruebeck hit the pitch limit of 110 on the final batter of the sixth inning. He retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced and the one who reached was immediately erased on a double play.
“They battled with Christian and he battled right back,” Bollinger said.
He struck out six to go with five hits and three walks. Garrett Maxwell came on for the seventh and worked around a two-out double to center by De Leon with a groundout to second.
While Ruebeck was at his pitch count for the evening, De Leon had thrown just 45 going to the bottom of the sixth. Starting with a double play to end the third, De Leon got 17 straight outs to end the game, including a diving catch by Grant Hardy on a liner off Ruebeck’s bat that hung up long enough to make a play for the second out of the fourth inning. De Leon followed that by striking out the side in the fifth.
The Jackets had the 2-3-4 part of the order up in the seventh and Ruebeck nearly reached with one out but second baseman Dylan Clark snagged the sinking ball near the bag for the out.
Ruebeck worked in and out of trouble in the third when Lone Star loaded the bases with two outs. Owen Peck reached on an infield single to short but Cayden Earnhart threw him out trying to steal second. With two away, Austin Eaton walked, Dylan Clark singled and Austin Nairn walked. It remained a one-run margin as Ruebeck struck out Hardy on three pitches.
Denison got singles from Earnhart and Cam Wheeler around a strikeout to open the second but De Leon got Austen Patterson to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Rangers erased a scoring chance by the Yellow Jackets with some strong defense in the bottom of the first. Nick Moreno dropped a double just inside the right-field line that was ticketed for the corner. Moreno tried to stretch it into a triple and the relay throw nabbed him for the second out.
Lone Star jumped right to the lead in the first inning. Peck singled to center with one out and Ryan Bogusz, the Oklahoma State signee who is expected to start Game 2 on the mound, worked a full-count walk. Austin Eaton pulled a hit through the left side past the dive of Moreno at third to drive in the run.
Ruebeck limited the damage with a foul out and a fly to left but by the end of the game it turned out to be one run too many.