Central Heights Blows Away Wall For 3A State Championship + Video
ROUND ROCK -- It wasn't the championship game with a clutch finish most kids imagine while playing ball in the sandlot, but Nacogdoches Central Heights gladly took its easy win Thursday in the Class 3A state final at Dell Diamond.
The Blue Devils run-ruled Wall, 10-0, in five innings for their first crown since 2004. It was a 10-0 game after three frames.
"It's pretty clutch to be one of the only run-rule games at the state championships," senior catcher and championship game MVP Cade Watson said, shrugging. "That's unheard of. No one ever really does it. We just all came together. Full lineup. Full team effort. I got MVP, but I feel like everybody today was an MVP."
Watson led the game off with a fourth-pitch hit, scored later in the inning and went on to record three RBIs on two subsequent hits. His final line in the batter's box was a team-best 3-for-4.
Keep in mind the game only went five innings.
Like Watson said, it was a full team effort. Eight of Central Heights' nine batters notched a hit, and six of them reached base more than once.
Wall (31-4-1) managed to get out of the first and second innings relatively intact, down a manageable 3-0, but it took three pitchers to get through the third frame. Central Heights (37-2-1) batted around the order and put up seven runs on seven hits.
Freshman starting pitcher Caleb Heuertz was first to get caught up in the Blue Devils' barrage. The first five Central Heights batters of the third reached base. All but one eventually scored.
Mitchell Horton moved to the mound in relief, induced a fielder's choice and then gave up three consecutive hits. Each hit yielded a run.
Cade Kreig got the nod from there, helped set up a 6-4-3 double play and held the margin of deficit at 10 runs the rest of the way.
If it had not been Watson leading a dream offensive day for the Blue Devils, starting pitcher Rowan Arrant probably would have left Round Rock with the MVP plaque. He pitched an abridged two-hit shutout with seven strikeouts to two walks.
Arrant made head coach Travis Jackson look like a genius. The Blue Devils used junior ace pitcher and Texas A&M verbal commitment Grayson Rodriguez in Wednesday's semifinal win against Whitesboro to enhance their odds of simply making the title game.
Arrant posted an identical line to Rodriguez's where it mattered most. Both players allowed two hits in their state tournament appearances. Both also recorded three straight swinging strikeouts to begin their outings.
"It was amazing being up on the mound," Arrant, who ended the game with an assist to first base, said. "Nobody really thought about coming all this way when we started, but we all pulled through. We came together and did a great job."
Central Heights might be in position for a second state championship run next season. Thirteen letter winners are expected to return to five senior departures.
Starting pitching definitely won't be an issue. Arrant and Rodriguez both will be back.
The Blue Devils also retain the entirety of the infield that started the championship game sans Watson. Starting left fielder Braden Thomas will return as well.
"There's a lot of excitement," Jackson said. "I'm proud of these guys. This is what we wanted from day one. Hard work and dedication, it all goes out to them, they put forth the effort. Great coaching staff. I'm proud to be a Blue Devil and proud to bring it back to Central Heights."
Nacogdoches Central Heights 10, Wall 0
Class 3A State Championship Game
At Dell Diamond, Round Rock
Central Heights 127 00 — 10 11 0
Wall 000 00 — 0 2 1
Pitchers and catchers
- Central Heights: Rowan Arrant and Cade Watson
- Wall: Caleb Heuertz, Mitchell Horton (3), Cade Kreig (3) and Dryden Virden
WP — Arrant
LP — Heuertz
Central Heights: Cole Reneau
Central Heights: Watson