Updated: Jul 23, 2020
Editor's note: College Baseball Nation is joined by guest writer, Riley Zayas, for coverage of the Texas Collegiate League. Riley Zayas is a high school freshman and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kid reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, his personal blog 360 Sports, and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports magazine and website. He is passionate about all things sports and can be followed on Twitter at @ZayasRiley.
Round Rock Hairy Men have a series to remember against Acadiana
In a series victory over Acadiana, the Round Rock Hairy Men experienced some season highlights. The Hairy Men didn’t overwhelm the Cane Cutters, but found ways to win both game one and game three, bringing the team one step closer to taking control of first place in the TCL South division.
On Tuesday night, the series began with Acadiana putting up three runs as the Cane Cutters strung together five hits in the fourth, which scored two. The Hairy Men battled back, with two of their own in the bottom half of the seventh, and Baylor’s Estaeban Cardoza-Oquendo scored in the eighth after he led off the inning with a single. It set up the perfect scenario for future Baylor Bear Chandler Freeman, who stepped to the plate with Ryan Hernandez in scoring position. After starting the at-bat with an 0-2 count, Freeman ripped an RBI double down the right field line, before being mobbed by his teammates. It was the first walk-off of the season for Round Rock.
“The camaraderie [of this team] has been awesome. Our college season got cancelled early so getting to get back into the swing of things as a team has been really cool.” -Chandler Freeman, Baylor, Round Rock
“That was a highlight for sure, but just getting to be around this group of guys is special,” said Freeman after Wednesday’s game. “The camaraderie [of this team] has been awesome. Our college season got cancelled early so getting to get back into the swing of things as a team has been really cool.”
Game two was a different story. Unlike game one, Round Rock’s bats got going early, with Jared McKenzie, a Baylor outfielder, beating out a bunt in the opening at bat of the game. Both Round Rock and Acadiana exchanged fire on offense, with the Cane Cutters striking first with a two-run second. The Hairy Men countered, scoring three in the bottom of the frame, but only to see the one-run lead evaporate with a three-run Cane Cutters’ third. Round Rock again scored, this time two runs to tie it up, thanks to Hernandez’ first triple of the season, which scored Freeman. That was all Round Rock could push across for the remainder of the game, as relief pitching dominated the ballgame. While Acadiana only scored three in the final six frames, the fact that they combined for 13 hits on the day showed just how effective their bats were in the 8-5 victory.
To cap it off, the Hairy Men put on a show on the mound Thursday night to claim the series win. Three pitchers, Trent Baker (Angelo State), Austin Smith (Arizona), and Carter Poulson (Wharton County JC) combined for a no-hitter, the first of the season for Round Rock, as Acadiana managed to reach base just five times on walks. In addition, Smith, who recently announced his transfer to Arizona, fanned eight batters.
Texas Stix fill in for Frisco against the Amarillo Sod Squad
As Frisco continued to struggle with simply putting a team on the field, the Texas Stix from the Five Tool League in Dallas were called upon to face the Amarillo Sod Squad over the weekend. Frisco, who has now forfeited or not played in 12 of their scheduled games, remains in fifth place in the north division with just five victories.
The Stix, who fielded a roster this season of Lone Star State players from schools such as Dallas Baptist, Texas A&M, and TCU, challenged the Sod Squad, although the three game series does not count towards Amarillo’s TCL record.
In game one, the Stix surprised many by taking down Amarillo, 7-4, but the Sod Squad roared back to win games two and three, by scores of 8-3 and 3-1, respectively.
Shane Davenport, head coach of the Texas Stix, said both he and his team were honored to be asked to play this past weekend.
“It was an honor to be asked to help fill a weekend series for the Sod Squad,” said Davenport following the series. “The players didn’t know much about the league but are always game for playing good competition. That all changed once we arrived and saw the amazing ballpark and facilities. The staff took good care of the team and the players could not have been happier.”
Davenport attributed much of the Sod Squad’s success this season to an elite coaching staff of Brett Wellman and Tyler Coolbaugh.
“Their team is definitely put together well and have good leadership in Brett Wellman and Tyler Coolbaugh,” said Davenport. “ Both guys have great knowledge of the game and a good pedigree. The Sod Squad are lucky to have those guys leading that team every night. The Sod Squad players are a mix of good quality college players and more important were great young men.”
The Stix had solid performances from shortstop Izzy Lopez, who is heading into his sophomore season at Texas A&M, and McLennan JC second baseman Miguel Santos.
Drillers rebound from rough start
The Tulsa Drillers had big expectations heading into the week, tied for first place in the north division standings. However, facing the division’s top team, the Amarillo Sod Dogs in a midweek showdown, Tulsa struggled offensively, losing game one 4-0 and game two in a nailbiter, 2-1. Those losses did not seem to douse the team morale. If anything, they increased it, as the Drillers won the series finale against Amarillo before sweeping Texarkana, out scoring the Twins, 28-9.
Nebraska’s Cam Chick, who batted leadoff in the series finale against the Twins, went 3-for-5 in a 11-0 shutout victory Sunday. Those four straight victories also helped move Tulsa up to No. 3 in this week’s College Baseball Nation Power Rankings.
Hitter of the Week: Kelby Weyler, Lamar, Brazos Valley
The infielder out of Lamar started just four games this week, but made the most of his opportunities at the plate, tallying eight hits on the week, including a 4-for-5 performance in a 15-12 road victory against Acadiana. He had two RBI and a walk in that contest as well. His phenomenal week at the plate moved him up to first in the league in batting average, with .459 on the season. He scored three of his 11 runs this season this past week over the course of two games against Frisco and two against Acadiana.
Pitcher of the Week: Trent Baker, Angelo State, Round Rock
He started just one game, but played a critical role in the first no-hitter in Round Rock’s history, throwing five scoreless innings against the Cane Cutters. He was the only pitcher in the league this week to throw at least five innings and not surrender a single hit, much less a single run. He fanned six batters in the 3-0 victory in the series finale Thursday evening.
Amarillo Sod Dogs, 11-6- The Sod Dogs flipped spots with San Antonio in this week’s rankings as the result of series wins over both Tulsa and Round Rock, two of the TCL’s top teams. Pitching led the way, especially on the road against Round Rock, where the Sod Dogs rolled to a 4-2 victory, followed by a 2-1 win, in games one and two. On the week, the pitching staff posted a team ERA of 3.00.
San Antonio Flying Chanclas, 11-6- San Antonio played six straight games against Victoria, starting with a three game set on the road before returning back to Wolff Stadium in San Antonio for another three. The Flying Chanclas went 4-2 on the week, with four of those games being decided by one run.
Tulsa Drillers, 11-7- The Drillers jumped from fifth to third in our latest power rankings, thanks to a four game win streak to end the week. With a high octane offense, the Drillers batted .276 as a team.
Brazos Valley Bombers, 9-6- The Bombers are just one game back in the South division standings, following two losses to Frisco to begin the week. The Bombers earned the win in game one of an 11-inning contest at Acadiana, a high scoring affair that ended 15-12. Brazos Valley also took game two, before falling 5-2 in the series finale.
Round Rock Hairy Men, 9-9- The Hairy Men came back to beat the Sod Dogs in the eighth inning of the series finale Sunday night, as Baylor’s Estaban Cardoza-Oquendo raced home to score on a wild pitch, but dropped two crucial home games to the North division’s first place team.
Amarillo Sod Squad, 7-5- The Sod Squad took two of three games from Texarkana this week. Amarillo’s ability to compete with Tulsa and the Amarillo Sod Dogs, keeping themselves just one game out of first place in the north standings, is reason enough for them to remain at No. 6 in this week’s rankings.
Victoria Generals, 7-11- Having to play six straight games against San Antonio was not easy, but Victoria kept the games close, as four of them were decided by a single run, two of those won by the Generals.
Acadiana Cane Cutters, 6-11- While Acadiana is in fifth place in the south, the Cane Cutters have surprised many throughout the season by beating opponents with much better records, such as the Round Rock Hairy Men this past week. Playing with five less on their roster than Round Rock (when playing on the road, teams can only bring 30 players), the Cane Cutters nearly won game one, and ended up taking game two, 8-5, in a game that felt one-sided offensively in favor of the Cane Cutters.
Texarkana Twins, 4-14- The Twins have struggled in more ways than one this season. They lost two of three against the Sod Squad last week.
Frisco Roughriders, 5-10- It is not Frisco’s fault that Covid-19 has cancelled more than half of their season, but the Roughriders only played six games over the past two weeks, and have not faced as much competition in comparison to the league’s other teams.
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