Rockwall-Heath rebounds to force Game 3

DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- Rockwall-Heath has been in this situation time and time again this postseason. The Hawks, staring elimination in the eyes once again Friday, were determined to live another day and avenge a Game 1 shutout against Mesquite Poteet.

The Hawks defeated the Pirates 10-3 in Game 2 to tie the best-of-3 Class 4A Region II finals series and force a pivotal Game 3 on Saturday.

This is the fourth elimination game Rockwall-Heath has faced in the postseason. In the regional quarterfinal and semifinal, it defeated Hilcrest and Waxahachie in three games.

“It’s a huge win,” Rockwall-Heath coach Greg Harvey said. “It’s one we had to have. Our backs were against the wall and we had to come out and give our best effort. I really felt like we did.”

Game 2 was night and day compared to the opener for Rockwall-Heath as far as capitalizing on opportunities at the plate. In Game 1, Rockwall-Heath outhit Poteet 6-2, but that didn’t translate into runs. All nine starters collected a hit -- the Hawks had 13 total -- in the Game 2 effort.

A costly error in Game 1 eventually led to one of two Poteet runs in Thursday’s game. The Hawks didn’t commit an error in Game 2 while the Pirates had three.

“I didn’t feel like we gave a pretty good effort yesterday,” Harvey said. “We did not have the clutch hits that we’ve had all year. We left several guys at second base with chances to score. We had some base-running blunders and did make a costly error in that game.”

Rockwall-Heath’s lineup jumped out to its first lead in the series during the third inning. The Hawks drove in three runs on four consecutive hits. Bret Boswell and Thompson started the streak with back-to-back singles, followed by Jovan Hernandez’s RBI single which drove Boswell home. Jake Bledsoe’s two-RBI double gave the Hawks a 3-0 lead.

The Pirates’ Tyler Franklin responded quickly with a lead-off home run to right field in the top of the fourth, sparking Poteet to a three-run inning of its own. Angel Rodriguez’s double scored Ryan Taylor from second base and Chad Young’s Texas leaguer landed inside the left-field foul line, bringing Rodriguez across the plate to tie the score.

An RBI single from Austin Stewart in the fourth would give the Hawks a 4-3 lead. Stewart went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI’s in the second game.

“We hit the ball a lot better than we did last night and that’s what we needed to do is come out and hit the ball,” Stewart said.

Rockwall-Heath continued to pile up runs in the fifth inning. Bret Boswell’s RBI-single gave the Hawks a 7-3 lead. Boswell finished game with two singles.

Play stopped in the bottom of the fifth inning after Poteet’s Ryan Taylor drew a walk with a runner advancing to second base and two outs. The umpires stopped play and later called Taylor out for using an unapproved bat. It would be the last time Poteet had a runner in scoring position.

Rockwall-Heath pitcher Jake Thompson pitched a complete seven-inning game with the season on the line, allowing three runs on six hits and striking out seven.

The Hawks cushioned their lead in the sixth inning, capped by Stewart’s RBI-double to give them a 10-3 lead. It set up a Game 3 matchup with all the marbles up for grabs Saturday.

“We’ve had to face some elimination games and it’s good for our character,” Harvey said. “We’ve been through it so we know we can do it so here we go again.”