ROUND ROCK, Texas - D'Hanis magic keeps on rolling.
Four days after the Cowgirls softball team claimed the state title in Austin, the Cowboys baseball team took the field at Dell Diamond in Round Rock and dominated Dodd City 10-0 in five innings, punching their tickets to the UIL Class 1A State Championship game.
"It's going to be awesome," said senior pitcher Alex Magers. "In all my years of baseball, I've never had a game like this to look forward to, and it's going to be very different waking up tomorrow morning."
"A bunch of these guys went to the softball games, so they saw the environment," said head coach Todd Craft. "They saw what it was all about. I looked in the stands today, and all of the girls were here. Our community seems like they know what they're doing now. It's just awesome. I'm super excited for the kids. These guys are awesome, and I'm just glad I get to hang out with them for one more day."
The celebration began with a scare. In the top of the first, Magers, a Texas A&M commit, unintentionally drilled Dodd City sophomore Aaron Munger in the nose. With blood pouring onto the dirt in the batter's box, Magers went down to both knees, visibly shaken. After Munger was taken back to the Hornets' dugout, Magers followed, assuring his opponent that there was no ill will involved. Munger was later taken to a local hospital.
"That's who he is," Craft said. "That's our kids. They all come from great families, and that's how they operate. He felt terrible and wanted to go over and say something to the young man. He told him he was sorry. It was just unfortunate. I hope he's okay."
"It was big to me because I've seen that happen multiple times," Magers explained. "I've come close to having it. I know it's a scary thought. He was probably shaken like crazy, and I just wanted to make sure that he knew no part of that was intentional. It's just baseball. Personally, I think I did a good job of controlling my emotions and coming into the dugout after that first inning to refocus."
The Cowboys rebounded quickly and took the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Sophomore third baseman Thomas Beard drove home Luke Langfeld with an RBI single to cap a two-run first, and after tallying an RBI groundout in the bottom of the fourth, D'Hanis opened up the floodgates in the fifth. Magers proved his worth at the plate, leading off the inning with a double, then capping a seven-run outburst with a three-RBI double to left, which proved to be the game-ending hit. Magers finished the day 3-for-4 at the plate with three RBI.
"I was just trying to get a base hit," Magers said. "I just wanted to get a single, get the next batter up to the plate and just start pushing runs across. When it left my bat, I knew it was going to be in the gap. I knew we were going to score, so I just got incredibly happy running around second and seeing Solomon score."
"We had bases loaded with seven on the board, and I knew if he found a gap, we had enough speed to clear the bases," Craft said. "With the era of the pitch count, it's always big. We had a couple guys warming up in case we didn't get the run rule. We had a big inning, and luckily we were able to finish it off. I think he ended up with 62 pitches. It gives us a little room tomorrow if we need him."
Now, the Cowboys are one win away from bringing home a championship. Standing in their way are the Leopards of New Home, who defeated Wells in the earlier state semifinal 12-2 in six innings.
"There were four teams who were here last year, and only one of them came back. It was New Home," Craft said. "They obviously have a great team, and they run-ruled their opponent in the first game. They're well schooled, well coached on the bases. We're definitely going to have our hands full, but we'll give them heck and see what happens tomorrow."
D'Hanis will take on New Home in the Class 1A State Championship game Thursday at 9 a.m.
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