STEPHENVILLE — The Glen Rose Tigers fought through another close District 8-4A baseball battle Friday, but came up just short as they ended their 2017 season with a 4-3 loss to Stephenville.
The Tigers struggled to score runs at times this season, leading to their 3-9 mark in district play. After a strong start to the season, Glen Rose finished the campaign with a 12-11 record.
Glen Rose tied for fifth in the final district standings with Venus, ahead of 1-11 Waxahachie Life School. Godley was the district champion at 11-1. The other playoff qualifiers are Midlothian Heritage, second at 10-2, and Alvarado and Stephenville both at 7-5. Alvarado is the third-place team.
Glen Rose scored one run in the third inning and two in the sixth in the matchup against the Yellow Jackets.
Runners were left on second and third when the sixth ended, and two more runners were stranded in the seventh inning.
Senior Camron Rush was the starting pitcher for the Tigers. Freshman Davis Shackelford pitched the final four frames, and was 3-for-4 with one run batted in for the Tigers.
Seniors Gus Stoner and Cordell Whitefield, along with junior Conner Hanson, had the other hits for Glen Rose.
Stephenville (18-7-2 overall) is going into the playoffs as the fourth-place team, and will play a best-of-three series against District 7-4A champion Kennedale in the bi-district round of the playoffs, beginning Friday at home.
“Our kids fought. They competed well,” Glen Rose head coach James Evans said. “We had a couple of mistakes early-on. We didn’t have that clutch hit when we had runners on second and third. That’s kind of been our story the whole season.”
Evans said he wasn’t sure what contributed to the lack of clutch hitting.
“They might have been pressing,” Evans said. “We work on it constantly.”
In his 22 seasons as a head coach, Evans had reached the playoffs 20 times. The one previous time was in Celina, and that team finished the season with a 22-4 record.
Godley is ranked No. 8 and Midlothian Heritage is 14th in the latest Texas High School Baseball Class 4A poll.
Six seniors will be lost to graduation — shortstop/pitcher Camron Rush, catcher/pitcher Gus Stoner, infielder Camden Reynolds, first baseman Brennan Cary and utility players Seth Love and Cordell Whitefield.
“They are a great bunch,” Evans said. “They worked hard and competed every time they stepped on the field.”
As for the way the season ended without a playoff spot, senior Camron Rush said, “That’s just the way baseball goes. We knew it was going to be rough. We always had to try our best. Sometimes things didn’t go our way. It’s a really tough district, especially moving into (Class) 4A, with multiple top-20-ranked teams.”
A few weeks ago, Rush signed a letter-of-intent to play baseball starting next season at East Texas Baptist University.
Evans said he has reason to be optimistic about next season.
“We have a lot of good young players coming back,” the coach said. “Both of the JV teams played a full schedule and they got lots of reps. Hopefully, that will help us.”
Offensive leaders this season for the Tigers included Tyler Torres with a remarkable .480 batting average with a team-high 36 hits in 75 at-bats. He led the team in runs scored (32), and was second in doubles (5).
Gus Stoner and Davis Shackelford were tied for second in hitting, both finishing the season at .403. They also tied for the most runs batted in, both recording 23.
Two Tigers — Camron Rush and Camden Reynolds — tied for fourth in hitting, both at .323.
Shackelford had the most extra-base hits (8), including six doubles. Reynolds also had six doubles.
Shackelford posted a microscopic earned run average of .066 to lead the pitching staff, and had a team-best 6-2 record. He struck out 90 in 53 innings while giving up just 23 hits and walking 35. He allowed 15 runs, but only 5 were earned.
Rush posted a 3-7 record and a 3.39 ERA. He struck out 35, walked 25 and gave up 62 hits in 53-2/3 innings. Rush allowed 47 runs, including 26 earned.
The only other players who had records on the mound were Stoner, at 0-2, and Connor Hansen, at 2-0. Both pitched 12-1/3 innings. Stoner posted a 1.13 ERA and Hanson’s was 2.27.