AP NEWS

Deer Park trounced 16-0 by Atascocita in bi-district series opener

May 5, 2019

After eight straight years of winning a baseball district championship, Deer Park apparently isn’t comfortable in their new position as an also-ran.

Very uncomfortable might be more like it for the third-place winners of District 21-6A.

Nine Atascocita players drove in runs, while southpaw Clay Bradford threw seven innings of shutout ball as the Eagles throttled Deer Park 16-0 in Game 1 of their bi-district series at Jim Kethan Field Thursday night.

Game’s 2’s time and location has been changed out of concern for Friday’s weather. The contest will be at noon at Humble High School.

It was a competitive game for four innings, before the roof caved in on Deer Park over the final three frames when the District 22-6A runner-up winners scored six in the fifth and seven in the seventh.

“It’s baseball. You gotta come out every night and play hard. In the playoffs anything can happen. It’s a three-game series for a reason and we’re fortunate enough to get Game 1. There’s still a lot of work to do,” Atascocita head coach Eric Matthews said.

Deer Park paraded Jordan Phillips, Brody Wilson, Jackson Cleveland and Bryce Mead to the mound in its futile attempt to cool off Atascocita’s .322 season batting average.

But the one thing Deer Park’s pitching couldn’t do was to miss the strike zone and it did. Of Atascocita’s opening five runs, three were due to bases-loaded walks, including two during that six-run fifth frame.

The other came in the second inning when Atascocita made it 2-0 on a bases-loaded walk to Macrae Kendrick.

Phillips, the losing pitcher, saw his night end when he walked the first three batters in the fourth. Fortunately, Atascocita’s only mistake on the basepaths came in the middle of that wildness when a courtesy runner was picked off second base.

As for Bradford, who improves to 5-1 on the season, he went home with a five-hitter, two of which arrived in the second inning when Deer Park entertained thoughts of eating up that 2-0 deficit.

But almost every time Bradford surrendered a basehit, he immediately came right back with a strikeout. It happened after both of those hits in the second inning and it happened after Tyler Weir began the third inning with a single.

“Clay is a competitor. All I ask of any of my pitchers is to throw strikes and give us a chance to win and he did that tonight. You want competitors out there. As a pitcher, you understand you’re going to give up hits, you’re not going to throw no-hitters every time you toe the rubber. You gotta throw strikes and make them earn it,” Matthews said.

Deer Park’s struggles on the mound prevented head coach Chris Rupp’s crew from keeping the damage to a minimum in the fifth when Game 1 was lost.

For the second time in the game, back-to-back-to-back free passes to first base created deficits of 4-0 and 5-0. Following a pitching change, Brice Matthews singled home the inning’s third run. A passed ball upped the deficit to 7-0, before Kendrick singled to left field, putting the Deer down by eight.

Bradford, who helped his own cause with a two-RBI night, then finished the damage by driving in the sixth run of the inning.

Deer Park’s only bright spot was the strong hitting once more by Alex Olivo. Olivo accounted for two of Deer Park’s five hits. He dropped a single down the left field line in the second and he clouted a stand-up double in the sixth inning.

Noah Ramirez, Phillips and Tyler Weir tallied Deer Park’s other hits.

ravery@hcnonline.com