HUNTSVILLE – The Robinson baseball team experienced a rough inning at an inconvenient moment in its quest to reach the Class 4A state tournament.
The Rockets saw Sweeny put up three runs in the top of the first inning and that rally stuck as the Bulldogs swung their way to an 11-1 victory in the deciding game of the Class 4A Region III final series on Friday at Sam Houston State’s Don Sanders Stadium.
Robinson pitcher Jace Walker, who has been a rock-solid presence for the Rockets both on the mound and at the plate throughout the program’s deep runs in the playoffs the last two seasons, couldn’t access his best stuff as he started Game 3 of the best-of-three series.
Walker hit the first batter he faced on Friday, then gave up a pair of walks that helped get the Bulldogs started in the first inning. Sweeny’s Quinton Martin and Nathan Nance each had RBI hits and Braden Norris walked with the bases loaded to cap the three-run rally.
Robinson couldn’t answer until the fourth inning when designated hitter Tyler Bennett singled to score Chris Morrow. By that time, Sweeny led 5-1 after the Bulldogs held the Rockets to a single run in the fourth.
That’s all the runs Robinson managed and couldn’t avoid a run-rule loss after the sixth inning.
Sweeny (30-8) is headed back to the state tournament. The Bulldogs lost to Argyle, 5-0, in the 4A championship game a year ago.
Robinson (31-6), which advanced to the 4A Region III semifinals a year ago, was a win away from the state tournament after Jordan Rogers shut out Sweeny on Wednesday night. Walker hit a solo home run and Rogers went the distance on the mound as Robinson tied the series with a 1-0 victory in the nightcap of a doubleheader to start the regional final series.
But Sweeny, which claimed a 2-0 victory in Game 1, grabbed momentum on the rubber match and didn’t let go.
The Bulldogs tacked on single runs in the top of the second and third innings for a commanding 5-0 lead with pitcher Jackson Kiddy keeping the Robinson bats quiet through the first four frames.
Kiddy struck out eight, walked one, hit one batter and gave up five hits.
Lightning in the area in the bottom of the fifth inning caused a delay of almost two hours. After the break, Sweeny came up with a six-run rally in the top of the sixth inning. That paved the way for the Bulldogs to keep Robinson off the board in the bottom of the sixth and end the game.