The last time West took the field it fought through the pressure of the state tournament and took home the Class 3A crown.
The atmosphere was much more relaxed for the pair of Trojans and the rest of the area’s recently graduated standouts who competed in Tuesday night’s Central Texas Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game at Baylor Ballpark.
“It’s a lot of fun to get to get to play with all of these people I play with in the summer and get to see them for the first time this summer, most of them, because we just got done with state,” West second baseman Brandt Shilling said. “It’s good competition here.”
Shilling was joined on the North team by West first baseman J.R. Rozyskie, but their squad couldn’t get anything going against a loaded South team on the mound and at the plate and dropped an 8-0 decision.
Belton’s Dustin Tish, Salado’s Jacob Little, Hubbard’s Ty Graves, Academy’s Reagan Pitts and Troy’s Epperson combined on a one-hitter with 14 strikeouts, and the South finished with 11 hits in the victory.
Only Mexia’s Blake Lewis picked up a hit for the North, a one-out single to center field in the bottom of the second inning.
The loss didn’t damper the mood for Shilling and Rozyskie, both of whom said winning state hasn’t sunk in for them — even with constant congratulations in their home town as well as from their all-star teammates.
West will get the whole team back together Thursday for a parade through town to celebrate the second state baseball championship in school history.
The Trojans’ greatest strength was a talented junior class, but they got solid contributions from Shilling, Rozyskie and fellow senior Karder Bing.
“It’s special to be chosen, and it makes you feel like you’re a good baseball player,” Rozyskie said. “I feel like I am, and it’s the last time to show off and have a good time doing it. I’ve done that, so it feels good.”
After a scoreless first inning, the South broke through in the second.
Shoemaker’s Wade Corn blooped a single on the infield for the first hit for either team and eventually scored the game’s initial run when Harker Heights’ Landon Persick was able to beat the relay throw on a double-play try.
The scoring was dormant again until the fifth, when a Belton trio went to work. Coby Potvin was grazed with a pitch and stole second, and Shane Stafford was hit by a pitch. Potvin never stopped on a wild pitch and slid home safely, with Stafford moving to third. That made it easy for him to make it a 3-0 game on Chase Sortor’s RBI single to right.
Persick made it a 4-0 score in the sixth, when his RBI single through the right side brought home Troy’s Zeb Criswell, but a reflex grab on a line drive by Groesbeck first baseman Jaime Rocha kept the score from getting more out of hand — at least for the moment.
The South kept piling it on in the seventh on singles from Graves that scored Riesel’s Thomas Morehouse, and Graves came around on a Tish single to center to run the score to 6-0.
It was 7-0 in the eighth, when Stafford’s line drive to left got down for a single and past the North fielder. Stafford motored all the way around to score on the play, and the South finished the scoring in the ninth on Lexington’s W.E. Meuth’s single to right field.
The North’s best chance to score came in the eighth inning, when Epperson hit Crawford’s Braden Murphy and Connally’s Colton Anderson around a walk to Grandview’s Neil Adcock. But Epperson struck out the side around to get out of the inning without any damage done.
Despite the loss, Rozyskie called the game “a blast.”
“It’s awesome meeting a new group of guys who we’ve played in the past but don’t know,” Rozyskie said. “It’s cool meeting new guys and playing with new guys. We’re just trying to have fun.”