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Bearcats win district title, fall to Rider


After defeating Azle 5-1 on Friday, April 19, to secure the District 5-5A title for the fifth season in a row - not counting 2020 due to the pandemic - the Aledo Bearcats had the opportunity to finish off their district schedule unbeaten when they faced Wichita Falls Rider in the season finale on Tuesday, April 23. 

A late two-run rally in the top of the seventh inning brought an end to Aledo’s undefeated district run, as the Raiders went on to win 4-2. However, the loss was of little consequence heading into the playoffs, with seeding for both teams already determined regardless of outcome.

Jake Huffman got the start on the hill for the Bearcats against Rider. Huffman found a rhythm early, surrendering just a lone walk in the top of the first before getting out of the inning with no harm done.

As the Bearcats came up to bat in the bottom half of the first, they put the pressure on the Raiders’ lanky left-hander early. Brooks Burdine worked himself into a deep count before eventually drawing a leadoff walk when the 3-2 payoff pitch missed the zone. 

Boyd Thompson stepped into the box looking to put the ball in play. He fouled off the first offering from the Rider hurler. He got a lot more of the second pitch, as he smoked a line drive through the right side of the infield for a base hit.

With one out in the inning, runners on first and second, and Drew Weckel stepping into the box, Burdine took his lead from second. As the pitcher started towards the plate, Burdine took off for third base. The pitch missed the zone taking the Raiders backstop out of position as he forced the throw down the line to third. The throw missed its mark as Burdine slid into third, allowing him to sprint for home plate to put the Bearcats on the board.

In all the commotion, Thompson moved into scoring position taking up residence at second base. Weckel hit a grounder to the third baseman for what should’ve been a routine out. However, the Raiders committed their second error of the inning allowing Weckel to reach first safely while Thompson moved over to third.

Weston Nance laid down a sacrifice bunt on the 0-1 offering and was thrown out by the pitcher on the routine 1-to-3 play. The bunt allowed Thompson to score from third, giving the Bearcats a 2-0 lead at the end of the first.

The Raider hurler settled down after a rough first inning, shutting the Bearcats down the rest of the way. His offense rewarded him by manufacturing a pair of runs in the top of the third to tie the game up at 2-2. 

The game stayed quiet through the middle innings as Luke Saunders came in to pitch for the Bearcats to start off the fourth inning. He put in three quality innings of work to keep Wichita Falls Rider off the scoreboard.

Rider capitalized late on a pair of walks, a wild pitch, and a dropped third strike to take a late 4-2 lead with the five, six, and seven-hole hitters coming up to bat for the Bearcats in the bottom of the seventh.

Down two runs and desperate for a baserunner, the “heart attack Bearcats” who have been so good in these situations all season long, only felt heartbreak as they went down in order to close out the game.

Miller time

Devin Miller has been the embodiment of dependable for the Bearcats this season. Friday’s game against Azle was no different, as the right-hander threw six complete innings of one-run baseball in yet another quality outing.

Burdine and Luke Trager hit triples in the game as the Bearcats scored a pair of runs in the second inning, followed by one run in the fifth, and a couple more runs in the sixth for their 10th district win in a row.

The Bearcats close their district and regular season Friday, April 26 against Rider in Wichita Falls. First pitch is 6:30 p.m.

Aledo will face the fourth-place team from District 6-5A in bidistrict late next week.

Aledo vs. Wichita Falls Rider – Tues, April 23

                                          R  H   E

Rider 002 000 2 - 4   3   2

Bearcats 200 000 0 - 2   2   0

Aledo hitting: Brooks Burdine BB, SB, R; Boyd Thompson 1-for-3, R; Ryan Jones 1-for-3; Weston Nance RBI.

Aledo pitching: Jake Huffman 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 earned), 2 BB, 4 K; Luke Saunders 3 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K; Eddie Howard 1 IP, 2 R (2 earned), 2 BB, K.

Aledo vs. Azle – Fri, April 19

                                            R   H   E

Azle  001 000 0 - 1   5   3

Bearcats 020 012 X - 5   7   0

Aledo hitting: Br. Burdine 2-for-4, 3B, 2 RBI; Jones 1-for-2, BB; Nance 2-for-3, R; Johnny Ruflin 1-for-2; Jake Bumgardner RBI, SB; Luke Trager 1-for-2, 3B, RBI, 2 R.

Aledo pitching: Devin Miller 6 IP, 5 H, R (earned), BB, 5 K; Howard 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 K.


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