EARLY — The Early Longhorns bounced back from Thursday’s 6-5 loss to Eastland with a 12-2 triumph over Hamilton in Friday’s home and regular season finale to earn a share of the District 6-3A baseball championship.
Early (14-7, 11-3) finished tied with Cisco (16-4, 11-3) – which lost to Comanche (9-15, 5-9) Friday by a 5-1 count — atop the league standings. The Longhorns will head to the playoffs as the No. 2 seed after dropping both district games to Cisco.
The Longhorns will face Anson in a Region I-3A bi-district playoff series Thursday and Saturday at Abilene Christian University. Game 1 is set for 8 p.m. Thursday with Games 2 and 3, if needed, at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Against Hamilton, (12-10, 6-8), the Longhorns (14-7, 11-3) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, which grew to 5-1 after two frames, 8-1 through three and 11-1 after four.
Aiden Frerichs tossed a five-inning five-hitter, yielding one earned run with five strikeouts and three walks.
At the plate, the Longhorns finished with seven hits – two each by Jonathan Morales and Frerichs, who drove in five runs, and one apiece by Jesson Tarrant, Tyson Tyler and David Shields. Early also drew eight walks and Hamilton committed a pair of errors.
In Early’s three-run first, Rylie Hill reached on a miscue, Morales singled and Tarrant walked — all with one out. Then, with two down, Frerichs cleared the bases with a three-RBI double to left field.
The Longhorns tacked on two more runs in the second as Rode Walters began the frame with a walk, Boston Hudson drew a one-out free pass and Morales delivered a two-out, two-RBI double to center field that scored Hudson and Shields, who reached on a fielder’s choice.
Early pushed the lead to 8-1 in the third as Walters’ RBI fielder’s choice drove in Tarrant, who singled to begin the frame. With two outs, Jadyn Lehde, who walked, scored on the back end of a double steal with Walters, while Shields later reached on an error that allowed Walters to score.
The Longhorns increased the advantage to 11-1 in the fourth as Frerich’s two-RBI triple drove in Morales and Tarrant, who both walked. Later, Frerichs scored on a passed ball.
Hamilton attempted the prolong the game with a run in the top of the fifth, but the Longhorns answered in the bottom of the frame to enforce the 10-run mercy rule as Hill’s RBI sacrifice bunt brought home Shields, who tripled to begin the inning.