By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Writer
Friday night’s game was tied at 0-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, but a solo shot by by North’s Heath Beasley gave the Dawgs all they needed to produce a 1-0 shutout to force a third game in the best of three baseball playoff series.
After Frisco Wakeland defeated McKinney North 2-1 in game one the night before, the Bulldogs needed to find some way to score a run if they wanted to keep their postseason dreams alive for another night. Anthony Herreraa grounded out to the third basemen for the first out of the inning. Then, up stepped senior outfielder Heath Beasley.
With the surrounding storms in the Carrollton area creating quite a breeze to left field, the right-handed Beasley dug into the box to face Wakeland starter Austin Gehle, who had only given up three hits in the ballgame up to that point. Suddenly, Beasley lined a ball out to left-center field that looked like it might one hop into the fence for a one out double for the Bulldogs. However, the Wolverine outfielders kept running in an effort to make the catch, but reached the wall and stopped, only to watch the ball continue to sail over the fence for a solo home run and a 1-0 North lead.
“I guess we needed a big hit,” said Beasley following the game. “I was looking for anything that I could drive. The last at-bat he gave me something that I just missed, and the next time up I just got a hold of it.”
North starting pitcher Will Cooper went back out on the mound in the seventh inning hoping to finish the ballgame and get his Bulldogs into game three on Saturday afternoon. After allowing an infield single off his own glove on a comebacker up the middle, Cooper was able to retire the next three Wakeland hitters as the Bulldogs won game two of the best-of-three series by a score of 1-0.
Cooper threw a complete game shutout for the Bulldogs, only allowing two hits over the entire game. The Wolverines first hit did not even come until the fifth inning off the bat of Johnny Gonzales, who singled off Cooper on a ball that was just to the left of the second baseman. When asked about “Coop’s” performance on the bump, Beasley couldn’t have been any prouder of his guy.
“Coop’s been our horse all year. He has been the guy to get us through a lot of games. He has been the heartbeat of our pitching staff and he set the tone the whole night to get the win. I’m proud of Coop. He did a great job.”
Despite taking the loss, Gehle threw an incredible game on the mound for Wakeland as he kept the Bulldog hitters off balance all night with a variety of pitches. Even though he was able to take advantage of one of Gehle’s mistake pitches, Beasley was very impressed with his ability to keep the ball in the strike zone and control his pitches.
“He was really good about hitting his spots. He wasn’t the hardest throwing guy but he could definitely hit his spots,” said Beasley. “He would kind of pitch guys backwards. The big thing was he was really hitting his spots well and that was impressive.”
But what may have been even more impressive than the game-winning home run and something that speaks volumes about the character of the Bulldog baseball team is when Beasley was asked what hitting that home run meant to him.
“I was just happy for us as a team and it was a cool moment for us. It kind of pushed us forward to the next game and it was just a great moment for us as a team. I was happy for those guys in the dugout and just glad to do something for them.”
North may not be the most talented ball club in the playoffs, but they are a group of guys that play for one another and have proven time and time again this season that they are an incredibly tough out for any opposing team. Even in a matchup of a four seed versus an undefeated district champion, Beasley and his teammates are confident and ready for the challenge of game three.
“It’s been cool. It’s been an incredible season. We’ve been kind of put off all year and not given much of a chance, but to be able to play for the next round tomorrow is going to be a special moment and game, especially for the seniors who have worked so hard. It’s going to be fun and I am looking forward to it, ” Beasley said.
Game three is set for 1 p.m. right back at Carrollton’s Kelly Field.