When senior star Jan Cabrera went down in Game 2 of the District 8-5A season after taking a fastball to the wrist, a sliver of uncertainty crept into the Denton dugout.
Cabrera was the Denton Record-Chronicle All-Area Baseball Team’s utility player of the year in 2018 and now the ace on the mound for first-year coach Toby Rumfield.
Despite having a team with 13 seniors, it was the younger players on the Broncos’ roster who stepped up to fill the void created by Cabrera’s injury. Sophomore pitcher and infielder Caden Greanead emerged as a potent arm to go with senior Austin Wheeler, while sophomore Justin Rumfield stepped up at third base.
Denton was able to keep its momentum going and won the 8-5A championship with a 10-2 mark. Denton now enters the playoffs with Cabrera finally able to play, though not at 100%, with the first round underway this week.
Denton will play Azle in a best-of-three series at Haslet Eaton with Game 1 set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Game 2 will be at 7 p.m. Friday and Game 3, if necessary, at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“It’s always good to have that experience with seniors, but our young kids have really stepped up and carried us at times,” Toby Rumfield said. “Our seniors have helped us too, but we’ve had to learn how to win without Jan, and that’s going to help us when we do get him back. I saw kids grow up and I was proud of our guys, because we didn’t know what was going to happen when we lost Jan.”
The Hornets won their last four games to secure a spot in the postseason. Toby Rumfield saw them play a couple of times and was impressed with their pitching rotation.
“They have arms, and they always say you win with arms,” Toby Rumfield said. “We’ll have our hands full getting runs on the board, but if we can do that then we should be able to hold up with our pitching and defense.”
After earning their first playoff win in a decade last year, the Broncos hope the return of Cabrera and the team’s momentum will lead to a deep playoff run.
“We’ve had some really good practices recently and we have some momentum going into this week,” Toby Rumfield said. “The kids are excited and ready to get out there and compete.”
Guyer looking for first playoff series win since 2014
After falling short of the playoffs last season, Guyer put together a five-game winning streak to close this season and secure a spot in the Class 6A playoffs. The Wildcats dropped a seeding game to Keller on Saturday and are now the No. 3 seed out of District 5-6A, setting up a matchup against a familiar opponent.
Guyer will play Flower Mound, the No. 2 seed from District 6-6A, in a best-of-three series with Game 1 at 4 p.m. Thursday at Allen. Game 2 will be at 4 p.m. Friday at Allen and Game 3, if necessary, at 10 a.m. Saturday at Dallas Baptist.
Guyer coach Pat Watson spent five seasons as an assistant at Flower Mound, where he won a state championship in 2014, prior to taking the head coaching job at Guyer in 2016. The Wildcats split a pair of tournament games against the Jaguars this season, increasing the familiarity between the two.
“Flower Mound has a history of success, but I know what they’re going to do,” Watson said. “I’m comfortable playing them. I know what their offense is going to be like and I know they’re going to have good pitching. We split with them this year, and I’m comfortable with going over there. The winner of this series is going to go a ways in the playoffs.”
Guyer enters the series riding the arms of Carson Ozmer and Bristol Carson, who have helped lead the Wildcats to a 22-13 record. Ozmer is 4-3 in 51 1/3 innings with 46 strikeouts and a 1.64 ERA, while Carson is 5-3 in 59 innings with 62 strikeouts and a 2.14 ERA.
In their first meeting March 1, Carson pitched five innings and give up three runs while recording six strikeouts in a 3-1 Flower Mound win. Austin Wallace was on the mound for the Jaguars, tossing 6 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts.
A March 9 rematch got out of hand quickly, as Guyer scored seven runs in the first and nine in the sixth to win in a wild 19-11 finish. The teams combined to use nine pitchers.
“We’re pretty confident in [Ozmer and Carson],” Watson said. “The big thing we’re working on right now is the Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6 guys. The thing with pitching is you can’t sit and wait to fight out of an inning. It’s going to be pretty quick — you have to find somebody who’s hot, and that’s why everybody has to be ready now.”
Kellan Landstad (.330, 17 RBIs, 26 runs), Jordan Beminio (.365, 11 doubles, 24 RBIs, 17 runs), Luke Piper (.322, 15 RBIs, 10 doubles) and Dylan Parham (.297, 10 doubles, 21 runs, 18 RBIs) are the Wildcats’ leaders at the plate.
Guyer is looking for its first playoff series win since 2014.
“We we want to play our style of baseball — moving runners over and trying to get them in,” Watson said. “These are going to be low-scoring games. That’s the huge thing — playing good defense and then getting two-out hits. The team that’s able to get those two-out hits is the one that’s going to move on.”
Argyle vs. Stephenville
Schedule: Game 1, 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Brock; Game 2, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Brock; Game 3, if necessary, 2 p.m. Saturday at Brock
Records: No. 1 Argyle (29-1-1, District 8-4A No. 1 seed), Stephenville (18-7-1, District 7-4A No. 4 seed).
Matchup: After dominating Dallas schools in the first round over the last few years, Argyle enters the postseason with a more competitive matchup. The Eagles, who have been the No. 1 team in Class 4A since the start of the year, have won 66 of their last 68 games dating back to last season and have won 18 in a row since falling to Class 6A power Southlake Carroll on March 8. Chad Ricker (6-0, 0.99 ERA, 63 strikeouts, 45 1/3 IP), Tate Van Poppel (7-0, 1.86 ERA, 47 strikeouts, 38 2/3 IP), Sean Bolin (5-1, 3.19 ERA, 26 strikeouts, 31 IP) and Dillon Carter (3-0, three saves, 0.55 ERA, 19 strikeouts, 16 1/3 IP) give Argyle plenty of weapons on the mound, while Carter (.400, 41 runs, 16 RBIs), Brenden Dixon (.365, 34 RBIs, 30 runs), Hayden Clearman (.350, 33 RBIs, 28 runs) are leaders at the plate.
Stephenville is the No. 4 seed out of District 7-4A but did split its regular-season series against No. 2 seed Godley and lost two games to No. 1 seed Brownwood by a combined three runs.
Coach’s thoughts: “We talked just like we did last year about building throughout the season,” Argyle coach Ricky Griffin said. “We want to go through predistrict and build that to where we’re ready for district, and as we go through district we want to see improvement so we’re ready for the playoffs. Once the playoffs get here, we want to be pretty high-intensity as far as our practices and what we’re doing to get ready for our opponent.
“The good thing is these guys went through all of this last year — they know what’s expected from them as far as the playoffs go.”
Lake Dallas vs. Grapevine
Schedule: Game 1, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Rockwall; Game 2, 11 a.m. Saturday at Rockwall (Game 3, if necessary, to follow)
Records: Lake Dallas (14-16, District 8-5A No. 3 seed), Grapevine (21-8-1, District 7-5A No. 2 seed)
Matchup: Lake Dallas beat Ryan 11-0 on Saturday to earn the No. 3 seed out of District 8-5A. After scoring just seven runs in five games, Lake Dallas’ bats heated up for 19 runs in two final games against Ryan. Grapevine lost its last two games to District 7-5A champion Colleyville Heritage to settle for the No. 2 seed. The Mustangs defeated Lake Dallas in the Class 5A Region I finals during their 2016 state championship run. After losing a heartbreaker to Frisco Reedy in the first round last year, Ryan Depperschmidt and Kyle York will look to lead the Falcons to the area round for the first time under Ryan Howard.
Coach’s thoughts: “Playoffs are all about timely hits,” Ryan Howard said. “During the last few games of the regular season, we were searching offensively for a big hit in a big situation. We got that the last two games against Denton Ryan, and I think we have a few guys in the lineup who are getting hot at the right time and getting confident heading into the playoffs. We’re going to have to pitch and play defense well and, most importantly, not beat ourselves.”
Krum vs. Godley
Schedule: Game 1, 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Fort Worth Brewer; Game 2, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Brewer; Game 3, if necessary, 11 a.m. Saturday at Brewer
Records: Krum (10-13-1, District 8-4A No. 3 seed), Godley (13-9-1, District 7-4A No. 2 seed)
Matchup: Krum heads into the bi-district round battle-tested after finishing third in a tough district that includes defending state champion Argyle and No. 11 Decatur. Pitching has been its strength, and the Bobcats have four hurlers who can cause problems for opposing lineups. Godley is on a five-game winning streak. The Wildcats advanced to the state semifinals last season but lost quite a bit of talent to graduation. Brooks Garrett, Cole Lee and Tanner Dieleman will look to lead Krum to the area round for the fourth straight season.
Coach’s thoughts: “We’re really excited,” Krum coach Matt McBrayer said. “Just based off the competition in our district, we feel like we’re ready to have success and go deep in the playoffs if we do the things we need to do and play to our capabilities. We just need to pitch like we’ve been doing, play defense and get some hits in crucial times.”
Aubrey vs. Dallas Carter
Schedule: Game 1, 7 p.m. Thursday at Aubrey; Game 2, 7 p.m. Friday at Aubrey; Game 3, if necessary, noon Saturday.
Records: Aubrey (16-10, No. 1 seed District 11-4A), Dallas Carter (No. 4 seed District 12-4A).
Matchup: The Chaparrals secured their first district championship since 2010 and have been on a roll since working through growing pains early in the season. Aubrey is looking to advance to the area round of the Class 4A playoffs for the third straight year. The Chaparrals meet Dallas Carter, the No. 4 seed out of District 12-4A, in the bi-district round and will be heavy favorites in the best-of-three series.
Coach’s thoughts: “You want to take it one series at a time,” Aubrey coach Nate Henry said. “We’re not going to look past anybody. We just have to continue playing good baseball and keep making ourselves better each week, regardless of whom we’re playing. Once you get going in the playoffs, you don’t really play any bad teams anymore because everybody is playing for something.”
Ponder vs. Van Alstyne
Schedule: Game 1, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Ponder; Game 2, 11 a.m. Saturday at Anna (Game 3, if necessary, to follow)
Records: Ponder (11-12-1, District 9-3A No. 4 seed), Van Alstyne (19-4, District 10-3A No. 1 seed)
Matchup: After narrowly missing the playoffs last season, the Ponder Lions return to bi-district action as the No. 4 seed out of District 9-3A. Ponder doesn’t score a lot of runs, but it has good pitching and defense. The Lions have found themselves in low-scoring games throughout the year, including two one-run losses to No. 2 Pottsboro. Van Alstyne comes in as the District 10-3A champion and ranked 14th. The Panthers are led by standout pitcher Rhett Gallagher. Ponder’s Conner Spivey and Logan Ivy will look to shut down Van Alstyne as the Lions aim for an upset.
Coach’s thoughts: “We’re just going to have to do the things we’ve done best this year, which is play defense and pitch,” Mark Low said. “If we do that, we’ll at least give ourselves a chance against a really good team. It was a fight and a struggle to get in the playoffs the whole year and we’ve played in a lot of close games, so we’re capable of playing under pressure.”
Dallas Pinkton vs. Sanger
Format: single game
Schedule: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Sanger
Records: Sanger (11-12-1, District 11-4A No. 2 seed), Dallas Pinkston (District 12-4A No. 3 seed).
Matchup: Sanger was battle-tested throughout district play and carries momentum despite finishing with a 2-1 loss to Aubrey. The Indians averaged nearly five runs per game in district play and have posted double-digit runs in five games over the last month and a half. Going against a Dallas school district team is nothing new for the Indians, and they hope to continue their success in the bi-district round after winning 10-0 in 2017 and 6-1 and 4-1 last year to advance.
Coach’s thoughts: “Our guys have been playing really well through district, so I feel pretty good,” Sanger coach Steve Ford said. “We’re capable of playing with anybody, so I have all the confidence right now. We’re going to be really aggressive in producing runs, so if we just play a clean game with minimal errors and minimal walks I think we’ll come out on top.”
— Contributing writer Bronte Hermesmeyer contributed to this report