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ROUND ROCK - Paced by Taco Anderson's sixth consecutive post-season victory, the Aledo Bearcats are the new Class 4A state baseball champions after shutting out Victoria East, 4-0, Friday night at Dell Diamond.
Anderson, who with nine other of his baseball teammates can claim state championships in football and baseball in the same school year, limited VE to just three hits with one walk with four strikeouts in a complete-game effort.
"It feels so good to win two state championships in one year," Anderson said. "We were expected to win in football, but when we finished third in district this year I don't think anyone outside of this team belived we could do what we did (Friday night). We wanted to prove to everyone that we were better than what we finished in district. This is so cool. It really hasn't sunk in yet."
Third baseman Garrett Uhl, who swatted a single and a double in the title game and played on the football team, was asked which of the two state championships he enjoyed the most.
"Both of them are pretty special," Uhl said. "But baseball is my favorite sport, so I like this one the best."
Bearcats head coach Chad Barry said the state tournament was just a continuation of how the team has played throughout the playoffs.
"We had good starting pitching with Chris (Reed, the semifinals winning pitcher) and Taco, but we just got better offensively as the playoffs went on," he said. "Each game we won it was a different player coming through for us at the plate.
"To see these guys rewarded for as many hours as they put in and all the criticism I have given them and how they have responded ... this team never gave up and are true champions.I don't think this has sunk in yet."
The Bearcats scored the only run Anderson would need in the top of the first inning.
Tyson Mauser led off with a base hit, advanced to second on a walk to Wade Raburn and moved to third base on a wild pitch. Zayne Willems followed and drove in Mauser for a 1-0 lead on a fielder's choice ground out.
"I was really nervous before the game," Anderson said. "But when we scored that first run before I ever took the mound it settled me down and helped me relax."
Aledo added a run in the second inning for a 2-0 cushion. Uhl led off with a line-shot double down the left-field line and scored when the next batter, Luke Glover, singled to center field.
Meanwhile, Anderson was dominating Victoria East. He struck out two batters in the second inning as VE seemd to be a little behind his fast ball.
After hitting the lead off batter in the fourth inning, Anderson got help from his defense in the frame as Glover turned a 6-3 double play when he scooped up a ground ball near the second base bag, touched the bag and fired to first baseman Dakota Durant to complete the double play that ended the inning.
Anderson retired the VE side in order in the fifth as AHS took a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning.
The Bearcats put the game away with a pair of runs in the sixth. Hershel Gardner and Zane Scott each patiently worked walks to begin the frame.
Three batters later, Willems came up with the biggest hit of the contest when he sent the first pitch from VE reliever Zac Leigh into center field for a double to drive in Zack Slemmons (running for Gardner) and Scott to increase the lead to 4-0.
"He gave me a first-pitch fast ball the first time I faced him (in the fifth inning) and I didn't swing at it," Willems said. "I was waiting for it the next time."
Inspired, Anderson retired six of the next seven batters to seal the win and the Class 4A state championship.
Read more about it in the June 13 issue of The Community News.