By BRAD KEITH
ABILENE (May 11, 2017) — Easton Jones pitched a complete game and Stephenville (22-7-2) exploded for seven runs in the third inning as the Yellow Jackets cruised to a 10-5 win over Sweetwater (12-15) in the opener of a best of three Region I-4A area playoff series Thursday at Crutcher Scott Field.
The remainder of he series is at the same venue – on the campus of Abilene Christian University – with game two starting at noon on Friday and game three, if needed, at noon on Saturday.
Jones allowed just two runs the fist six innings and Stephenville took a more-than-commanding 10-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh. The Yellow Jacket defense made it an adventure closing things out, but head coach Justin Swenson stuck with Jones on the mound, preserving other arms of the rest of the weekend.
The defense behind Jones was spot on for six innings but misjudged a couple fly balls and threw the ball away trying to get it to Jones as he covered first for what off the bat appeared to be a routine ground out to end the game. The junior righty pitched well enough to record six outs in the seventh, but instead surrendered three unearned runs, only a formality, of course, thanks to the large Stephenville lead.
Cody Storrs is flirting with hitting .400 for the season, as he entered the playoffs at .390 before going 4-for-8 in a last week’s two-game sweep of Kennedale and 3-for-5 with an RBI in the opener against Sweetwater. The Yellow Jackets collected 13 total hits – all singles – with Gibbons gong 2-for-4 and driving in two runs, Jones officially finishing 2-for-2 with an RBI, and Seth Heupel and Trevor Easter also gong 2-for-4, Heupel with an RBI. Alex Avila and Clay Krause each had a hit, and four total walks rounded out the offensive production.
While Stephenville’s three errors were late and ultimately not a factor in the outcome, Sweetwater committed four errors and allowed four unearned runs to keep it from ever being close. The Mustangs scattered eight hits against Jones, and while he as able to preserve the rms in the Stephenville pen for later in the weekend, Sweetwater used three pitchers after its starter lasted only four innings.
The winner of the series will meet Godley or Graham in next week’s regional quarterfinals. That series begins Friday in Mineral Wells and concludes Saturday at Brock.