EARLY — Tyson Tyler pitched 3.2 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief, and a six-run fourth inning triggered an Early Longhorns' 13-3 drubbing of the Dublin Lions in District 6-3A baseball action Friday night.
With the victory, the second-place Longhorns (11-6, 8-2) opened a four-game lead over fifth-place Dublin (7-9, 4-6) with four games left. Having completed a district sweep of Dublin with Friday's victory, Early secured a playoff berth as it can finish no worse than with tied the Lions and the Longhorns own the tie-breaker.
Trailing 3-1 in the top of the second inning, Early head coach Todd Hatton made the move to replace starting pitcher Ethen Portillo with Tyler, who was near flawless the rest of the way, recording four strikeouts and issuing one walk, along with the one hit.
“He had elbow surgery in the offseason,” Hatton said of Tyler. “We wanted to get his arm in shape and healthy. He threw in a tournament earlier and threw well. When we started district he hasn't seen a lot of time of the mound and we were waiting for the right time. He's been throwing in the bullpen. We know he has great potential and he showed that tonight. He's going to help us down the road for sure.”
Tyler also finished with a team-best three hits followed by one each from Boston Hudson, Rylie Hill, Jonathan Morales, Aiden Frerichs and Rode Walters. Along with eight hits, Early drew nine walks and was aided by five Dublin errors.
The Longhorns cut Dublin's lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the first on an RBI sacrifice fly by Jesson Tarrant that plated Hill, who singled to center field.
Early was then able to drew even at 3 in the bottom of the second. After a one-out double by Tyler and an error that allowed Walters to reach, Hudson uncorked a two-RBI triple to left field to drive in the tying runs.
The Longhorns claimed a 5-3 advantage in the third on Jadyn Lehde's RBI sacrifice fly knocked in Morales, who reached on an error to start the frame. Later, Tyler singled home Frerichs, who also reached on a base hit.
Early pushed the advantage to 11-3 in the fourth thanks to a six-run explosion. Hill was hit by a pitch and later scored on a passed ball. With two outs, after walks to Tarrant, Lehde and Frerichs, Walters crushed a three-RBI triple to deep center field, which quickly extended the lead to 9-3. Walters later scored on a wild pitch while David Shields, who walked, capped the scoring in the inning following another Dublin miscue.
“Rode Walters' big hit is what really separated it and broke it open,” Hatton said. “That was huge with two outs. It gave us a lot of momentum and maybe got them down a little bit.”
The Longhorns tacked on their final two runs in the bottom of the sixth to enforce the 10-run mercy rule. Tyler, who singled, scored on a passed ball while Hill's RBI ground out knocked in Walters, who drew a free pass.
Early is back in action Tuesday as it ventures to Coleman (2-10, 2-7).