By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (May 5, 2017) — Stephenville (19-7-2) beat Kennedale (17-8-1) in a wild early season contest and is meeting again with the traditionally powerful Wildcats in Region I-4A bi-district baseball playoff series this weekend.
Game 1 is 7:30 p.m. at James T. Young Baseball Field behind SHS and is the first home playoff contest as head coach for second-year Yellow Jacket leader Justin Swenson.
“Last year in both playoff series we played them all at neutral locations. so to get to be part of a home and home series is exciting for me,” said Swenson. “Hopefully we will have a great crowd and get the momentum rolling.”
Kennedale is hosting Game 2 at 2 p.m. Saturday, and it becomes a doubleheader with Game 3, if needed, beginning 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 2.
The winner of the series meets Sweetwater or Burkburnett in the area round next week.
Stephenville has relied on Easton Jones and Caleb Gibbons as its starting pitchers much of the season. Jones was out briefly but returned to throw the first two innings of a 6-0 playoff warmup win over 3A neighbor Dublin Monday, when six Yellow Jacket hurlers combined for a no hitter.
“Easton is fine. His velocity was down a little Monday, but his location was great,” said Swenson. “I’ll sacrifice a little velocity if I can get consistency with good pitch location.”
Gibbons also pitched an inning in Monday’s warmup, which does not affect them in regards to the new pitch count rules. While some order of Jones and Gibbons will certainly start the first two games of the series, Swenson is not set on a starter for the potential rubber match.
“I’m not sure yet who would start Game 3 if it goes that far,” he said. “That will depend on how the first two games go and how much relief work is needed in those games.”
Stephenville swept Kennedale in the area round of the playoffs in 2014. More recently, the Jackets won a 13-8 slugfest over he Wildcats early this season. Stephenville jumped ahead with a 6-run second inning only to trail following a 7-run Kennedale third. The Jackets eventually pulled away by scoring five times in the sixth.
Kade Averhoff went 3-for-4 with a triple and four RBI for Stephenville, which was then in the midst of winning eight of its first 10 games. Clay Krause went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI, and Alex Abila was 3-for-4 with a double. Cody Storrs also had a multi-hit performance, going 2-for-4 with an RBI.