Baseball: Decisive first inning lifts Alvin past Clear Lake, 5-1

March 20, 2019

Alvin pitcher Carson Keithley didn’t need a great deal of run support to be almost untouchable Tuesday night, but when Clear Lake provided assistance to his cause in the first inning, the Falcons were immediately behind the eight-ball.

The Yellowjackets scored all their runs in the opening frame, and rode Keithley’s 11-strikeout performance in 5 2/3 innings to a 5-1 victory in a District 24-6A baseball game at Nolan Ryan Field.

The Yellowjackets (7-2-1) were making their 2019 district debut Tuesday while Clear Lake saw its league record fall to 1-2.

“We just couldn’t get away from ourselves in the first inning,” Falcon head coach David Rogers said. “We threw up zeroes after that. The first inning just snake-bit us.”

Keithley, a crafty junior lefthander, allowed just two hits and a third-inning run in silencing the Falcon bats.

“You’ve got a left-hander there that’s probably as good as anybody we’ll see in this district,” Rogers said of Keithley. “That guy can dominate both sides of the plate and throws a good breaking ball as well. Once he put us on our heels, we had to play catch-up…and you can’t play catch-up against a kid like that.”

Alvin inflicted the bulk of its damage against Lake starter Devin McComas, and it was Keithley, who drew an inning-opening walk to start the Yellowjacket half of the first inning.

Erick Vasquez was then hit by a pitch before Austin Hinson reached on an infield single to load the bases.

A sacrifice fly to left brought home the first Alvin run before Kyler Mentzel’s squeeze bunt stretched the Alvin lead to 2-0.

Following a groundout, it appeared Clear Lake might avoid further damage, but Travis Phelps’ bunt found an open area between third and the pitcher’s mound, resulting in a single and run batted in for a 3-0 cushion.

A walk to Levi Whitlock then ended McComas’ stint on the mound, and Falcon reliever Trey Dorman was promptly greeted with a two-run double down the left-field line by Colin Jeter for a 5-0 score.

Dorman then retired Keithley, the 10th batter to come to the plate in the inning, but Lake was already in a deep hole.

Keithley fanned three batters each in the first and second innings before Lake managed to push across its only run in the third.

Keagan Vance drew a leadoff walk, and Matthew Vaselakos then hit into a force play. The ensuing throw to first base in an attempt for a double-play was errant, allowing Vaselakos to reach second.

One out later, Arjun Parikh singled him home for a 5-1 score.

Keithley struck out two batters each in the fourth and the fifth innings in holding Lake at bay.

Alvin’s Whitlock pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to seal the win. The ’Jackets permitted just one run despite committing four errors.

The teams meet again at 6 p.m., Friday at Clear Lake.

“For us, it’s a new day,” Rogers said. “We’ve proved that when we’re clicking that we can play with anybody, and we showed that after the first inning.

“We have to take our hacks where we take the ball out of the air. We have to hit more line drives instead of pop flies. We have to square it up and keep it down.”

Dorman struck out just three in 4 1/3 innings, but allowed no earned runs in his long-relief appearance.

“Trey has been lights out for us,” Rogers said. “He was a senior who said at the start of the year that he wanted to pitch, and he mixed it up well tonight.

“We couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Rogers knows the road ahead remains rocky for his squad.

“This district is like it was six or seven years ago when every night was a playoff night, and our guys have to come to accept that,” he said. “There’s nobody you can rest on.”