Aledo starting pitcher Briley Rodriguez and reliever Chance Roberts allowed a combined six hits and no earned runs to lead the Bearcats to a 3-2 victory over state-ranked No. 2 Colleyville Heritage in the opening game of a best-of-3 baseball area championship series Thursday night at Northwest High School.
Game two is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Northwest High School.
Rodriguez, who was lifted after facing two batters in the fifth due to a severe muscle cramp in his calf, was the winning pitcher. He allowed no earned runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in four innings. Roberts went the rest of the way, allowing no runs on one hit with a walk and a strikeout in three innings to collect the save.
“Briley was real disappointed in the way he pitched last week,” Bearcats head coach Chad Barry said. “He was rusty after missing a start the week before and didn’t not have the crispness on his breaking pitch or command of his fast ball. He worked hard this week in practice, and I think the work he put in translated into a good outing tonight.
“He pitched a heck of a game and gave us four strong innings. I took him out because of the cramp – he was only at 88 pitches – and he told me to leave him in there.”
Perhaps the biggest play of the game occurred in the fifth inning, with Roberts on the hill.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Heritage had what it wanted with the bases loaded and one out with clean-up hitter Mason Greer at the plate. Greer hit a one-hopper back to the mound, where Roberts cleanly fielded the ball and immediately threw home to catcher Gehrig Mosiello, who was standing on home plate for the force out. Mosiello relayed the throw to first base for a put out that completed an inning-ending double play.
“We were going for two in the middle and had the corners (first baseman, third baseman) up so we could at least get an out at the plate and have a force at every bag with two outs,” Barry said. “It ended up working out the best we could hope for.”
Heritage would have only one base runner for the rest of the game as Roberts sent down six of the last seven Heritage batters to earn a save and seal the win.
Heritage took a 1-0 lead in the first frame when Bobby Witt Jr. doubled, stole third base and advanced to the plate on an overthrow on the play.
The Bearcats scored twice in the second inning to take a 2-1 lead. Garrison Berkley led off with a single and scored when the next batter, Zach Reinert, launched a double to center field. Reinert advanced to third base on a fielder’s choice and scored after a wild pitch from Heritage starting pitcher Matt Parker.
Heritage scored in the bottom of the fourth on another unearned run to tie the game, 2-2, when Jacob Geurrero singled to left field but advanced to third on a fielding error on the play. He scored two batters later on an infield hit with two outs.
The Bearcats scored what turned out to be the game-winning run in the top of the fifth. With two outs and nobody on base, nine-hole hitter Vaughn Shields lined a single off relief pitcher Chandler Freeman. Jake Bishop followed with a base hit as Shields advanced to second base, and the next batter, Nathen Fingar, reached on an infield single to load the bases.
The next batter, Hunter Rosson – the offensive hero of the bi-district playoff series win last week – lined a single to left field to plate Shields as Aledo led, 3-2.
That left it up to Roberts, who after beginning the crucial bases-loaded double play in the fifth sent down six of the last seven Heritage hitters to give his team a 1-0 series lead which puts Heritage on the brink of playoff elimination.