The fourth inning held more key action than all the rest of Saturday’s game combined, and fortunately Glen Rose came up big in the frame.
The Tigers (11-9, 5-2) outscored visiting Venus 4-1 in the fourth during a 4-1 win. Each team had five hits and Venus made more errors (2-1).
“I just think it took both teams a little bit to get going after playing (Friday) night,” Toney said. “We were dragging, but were able to get it going more than they did.”
Hayden Bach (7 IP, R – ER, 5 H, 4 W, HBP, 6 K) navigated his way through the contest, often calling on a submarine motion.
“It’s tough for us to hit a sidearm pitcher, much less one that is switching his motion during a game,” said senior Austin Gibson. “I couldn’t even imagine going up against one of them.”
Offensive contributors for Glen Rose included Cody Burtscher (double, RBI), Gibson (single, RBI), Curry Mapes (single, RBI), Jayton Dillard (double), Bach (single) and Taylor Hansen (RBI).
As both teams went quietly in the first, catcher Mapes threw out Venus’ fastest baserunner by a mile at second.
“You have to be aggressive on the bases and make Curry make those throws,” Toney said. “Eventually, maybe they’ll stop testing him.”
Venus turned a double play in the second, and then in the bottom of the third Dillard doubled to left-center before being thrown out trying to leg out a triple. It was the only Glen Rose hit outside of the fourth inning.
“As a young player, you like to see him stroke the ball like that and hopefully he has a few more of them in him,” Toney said. “I hated that I got him thrown out at third.”
To open the Venus fourth, the visitors got a frozen rope homer to right field for a 1-0 lead. Bach benefitted from a running catch by Burtscher in center, as he retired three of the next four batters.
Bach opened the Tiger fourth with a line single to right, and he hit the ball hard throughout the game.
“Hayden and Colten Lane hit the ball hard at people often, but they just have to keep hitting it and eventually it will fall,” Toney said.
After Hayden Holder reached base on a throwing error, Hansen tied the score with an RBI sac fly (1-1). Mapes then hit an RBI single and advanced all the way to third on a fielding error (2-1). A Burtscher RBI double blasted off the wall in right-center for a 3-1 lead, and then a Gibson RBI single past first base finalized the score (4-1).
“Cody hit that one well with two strikes on him,” Toney said. “It scored a run and put him in scoring position.”
“We couldn’t get down after they got a good home run,” Gibson added. “We answered back with all of our runs in that inning, and that’s all we needed. That just showed that when we get people on base, we know how to hit them in.”
Bach quickly got into trouble in the fifth, as the first three batters singled. When the next batter hit a grounder back to him, Bach fired it home to Mapes for the force and the catcher shot the ball down to Preston Shuffield at first base for a double play.
“That home-to-first double play was big with the bases loaded and no outs with their best hitters coming up,” Toney said. “I think we escaped another bases-loaded, no-out situation very early in the season, but it doesn’t happen a lot where you don’t give up anything.”
Two batters later with the bases loaded again, Gibson made a spectacular diving catch in right-center to get his team off the field.
“They had runners in scoring position with two outs and it was in the gap,” Gibson said. “Cody probably could’ve gotten there earlier than I could, but I called him off real early and had to bust my butt to get over there and make a good play on it. I had a good catch this year against Alvarado, but I think this one was a little better.”
“I’m glad Austin got there,” Toney added. “He’s played good outfield for us, and I guess it’s that he gets a great jump on the ball.”
Bach registered three strikeouts in the last two innings, as left fielder Dillard made a running grab in the seventh to help close the game out.
“I’ve been really impressed with our outfield play; I think it’s the best we’ve had in several years,” Toney said. “Going with (the submarine motion) helped Hayden keep the ball down. He will miss high at times with his normal motion, so that’s a good change right there.”
The Tigers will now travel to Hillsboro on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
“I told the kids that this is exactly how we needed to respond to one we let get away against Alvarado,” Toney said. “Champions find a way to bounce back, and we did.”