Leonard tosses 6.2 innings of no-hit ball, homers twice in Game 2 victory
WHITNEY — The two most complete performances of the Brownwood Lions' baseball season couldn't have come at a better time.
The District 7-4A champion Lions completed a Region I-4A bi-district sweep of the 8-4A fourth-seeded Springtown Porcupines with a second consecutive shutout victory Friday night, 8-0.
In his first pitching outing of the season, Hunter Leonard hurled a no-hitter through 6.2 innings before he was lifted for the UIL pitch, striking out nine batters while walking four. Leonard also belted a pair of solo home runs, which proved to be plenty of offense for the Lions (15-10), who will move on to face either Vernon or Midland Greenwood — who will play a one-game playoff Saturday — in the area round of the playoffs next weekend.
Springtown (11-18) broke up the Lions' no-hit bid with two outs in the bottom of the seventh as Andrew Guisinger recorded an infield single against A.J. McCarty.
Other offensive standouts for the Lions, who collected a dozen hits, were Cain Kittrell and Kris Hobbs both with a single, double and one RBI; Gavon Clemons with a double and three RBI; C.J Hanley with a pair of singles; Khyren Deal with a double; and Grayson Swanzy with a single.
As was the case in Thursday's 7-0 series-opening victory, Brownwood seized the advantage in the first inning. Kittrell drew a walk off Springtown pitcher Easton Wells to start the game, Reece Rodgers then reached on an error and Clemons' RBI sacrifice fly plated Hunter Day, running for Kittrell.
Brownwood extended the advantage to 4-0 in the third as Swanzy began the frame with a walk and Kittrell singled to right field, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Rodgers' RBI sac fly plated Swanzy with the second run, then Clemons doubled home Kittrell for a 3-0 advantage. With two outs, an RBI double by Hobbs knocked in Clemons.
The Lions padded their cushion to 5-0 in the fifth as Leonard ripped a one-out home run to left field.
Brownwood's final three runs crossed the plate in the sixth inning as Swanzy again led off with a single and was knocked in by Kittrell's RBI double to center field. Clemons' RBI ground out later brought home Kittrell, then Leonard capped the Lions' scoring with his second long ball over the left field wall.