Sherman sweeps Denison for sole possession of fifth place
As the first two teams below the cutoff to make the playoffs, the Bearcats and Yellow Jackets knew the opportunities to make a move in the standings were running out.
The Jackets had won three straight to get back into the chase. The Bearcats were just consistently inconsistent enough to remain in the race.
And it was Sherman that gained the upper hand as the main contender from outside the top four with its second consecutive win as the Cats defeated the Jackets, 4-1, in District 10-5A action at Denison to sweep the rivalry’s season series.
The Bearcats (11-13, 4-6) gained sole possession of fifth place and are now one game behind McKinney North for the last playoff berth heading into the final four games.
“We’ve got to take care of business. That’s what we told them,” Sherman head coach Chris Anderson said. “Of the four opponents, three of them are the same. We have to one up them the next two weeks. We’re two up, then we’re in.”
Dylan Fine was 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and scored twice, Tate Bethel doubled, walked twice, scored and got the win by scattering five hits, a walk, a hit by pitch and striking out four and Luke Young singled, drove in a run and stole two bases for Sherman, which plays at second-place Lovejoy on Tuesday.
Cam Wheeler doubled and scored, Logan Tilley singled and drove in a run and Drew Meek walked and was hit by a pitch for Denison (10-15, 3-7), which hosts McKinney North on Tuesday.
The Jackets brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. After an out, Cooper Mackay, Garland Parker and Owen Ewton singled and Denison was about to have the bases loaded with one out.
Ewton’s hit was dunked into shallow right center and Young came charging from right to field the ball. Mackay put the brakes on after rounding third and as he was trying to get back to the bag was thrown out for the second out.
Peyton Johnson popped out to end the game and give Sherman the sweep.
With one out in the top of the fifth, Fine hustled to second on a fly ball Wheeler lost sight of in center. Another error, this time as catcher Brendan Wolf tried to pick him off, sent him to third and despite the infield playing in, Young’s groundout to second was soft enough to give Sherman a 4-1 advantage.
“With the way we saw the wind was blowing, we felt like we had to be really good at small ball,” Anderson said. “If we execute, we’ll win. They’ve done a good job of figuring that out. If we do the process right, the results take care of themselves.”
Denison also left runners in scoring position in the second, fourth and sixth frames.
Meek walked with one out, moved up on a wild pitch and was at third after a groundout in the second.
Canaan Farley Jr. reached on a one-out error in the fourth and Meek was hit by a pitch with two outs.
Wheeler led off the sixth with a double into the left-center corner but Tilley and Farley Jr. followed with lineouts to short and second, respectively, before Ty Kirkbride flew out to right.
The Bearcats missed some chances to extend their advantage as they left the bases loaded in the fourth and sixth.
Paxton Samuelson singled with one away in the fourth, Gavin Wright had a two-out single and Logan Williams followed with an out. Farley Jr. got Connor Clark to fly out to right to keep the deficit at two runs.
In the sixth, Trevor VanSant opened the inning by reaching on an error and was sacrificed over. Williams was hit by a pitch and Clark’s slow roller to third moved the runners up. With first base open, Bethel was intentionally walked before Ewton, who had relieved Farley Jr. to start the inning, got Fine to fly out to left.
Sherman made it 3-1 in the top of the third when Bethel doubled to left center with two outs, courtesy runner Gabe Blankenship moved over on a balk and Fine singled up the middle.
The Jackets had an answer in the bottom of the first to cut the deficit in half. Wheeler reached on an error, stole second and went to third when the throw went into center. Tilley hit a little flare into center to drive in Denison’s only run.
Sherman used a two-out rally in the first to take a 2-0 lead. Bethel walked and Fine doubled off the right-field wall to put the Bearcats on the board.
Runners were on the corners after Young reached on an infield single to short and as he drew a throw after taking off for second, Fine came home on the back end of the double steal, beating the return toss to the plate.
“It was a good read,” Anderson said. “I was trying to be cautious but it was the perfect read.”