MCKINNEY, Texas – Frisco Wakeland’s performance in the baseball playoffs can only be described as magic by coach Barry Rose.
All but one of Wakeland’s best-of-three series have needed all three games to be decided, and the regional final will be no different after a 1-0 Wakeland win over Rockwall-Heath in Game 2 on Friday.
Willie Schwanke carried his team on both sides of the ball, pitching a complete-game, three-hit shutout against one of the most solid lineups in the area. Schwanke added a third-inning double that resulted in the only run of the game, thanks to an RBI single by Justin Swanner.
“He’s a competitor and when our backs are against the wall, he’s the guy we want on the bump,” Rose said. “Just a great mindset going out. He thinks he’s going to win and if it’s a one-on-one battle with the batter, he thinks he’s going to win.”
Schwanke said he had trouble finding his pitching touch in the opening innings, allowing a walk in the first and a single in the second, but settled into a groove of two, 1-2-3 innings in the third and fourth. He did not allow a runner past first after the second inning.
Rockwall-Heath coach Greg Harvey elected to go with Jake Baxter on the mound after an 8-1 win in Game 1 on Thursday, saving Heath’s ace, Jake Thompson, for a Game 3 if necessary.
"(Baxter) deserved a win. We just ran into a tough pitcher,” Harvey said.
Wakeland now has the tough task of facing Thompson, who has either the MLB draft or a career at TCU in his near future, in Game 3, but Rose said he likes the luck in his team’s favor.
Rose won the coin toss after Friday’s game and selected to be visitors in the final game, hoping to ride the good vibes that come from the first-base dugout.
“They won last night over here,” Rose said. “We won tonight over here. I just have a feeling that I want to get up there and swing it first and get some momentum at the beginning of the game.”
Rose will give the starting pitching nod to Cameron Brockhoff for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. finale at McKinney Boyd High School.
It will be just the second Game 3 that Heath has played during its playoff run, but the motivation of two consecutive regional final trips without a trip to Austin will drive the Hawks' efforts.
For Wakeland, Saturday will just be playoff business as usual.
“We’ve got some Game 3 magic going on, so we'll see if we can get some more tomorrow night,” Rose said.