By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
It was a perfect night for baseball as the sun began to set behind McKinney Boyd High School on Tuesday night. The homestanding Broncos and their crosstown rivals McKinney Lions would meet for the first time as district opponents since 2008, when both schools were still in Class 4A.
Under the new 15-game schedule in District 10-5A, the Lions and Broncos would play three times over the next three three weeks, including twice in a span of four days. At the halfway point the Lions were 4-4 and holding a two-game lead over Plano East for the fourth and final playoff spot.
On the other hand, the Broncos earned their first district win on Saturday afternoon at Plano East, topping the Panthers 15-1. It was the team’s first district win after starting off 0-7, including two 2-1 losses that both went eight innings. With just seven games remaining entering Tuesday night, Boyd could not afford to lose any more games to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Benefitting from five Lions errors Tuesday, Boyd topped MHS 9-1 and improved to 2-7 in 10-5A, forcing a tie for fifth place with Plano East. MHS dropped to 4-5 and remained in fourth place by two games.
“Mama said there would be days like this,” said McKinney head coach Jeremy Price. “We haven’t seen that team in a month or so. We’ve been playing really consistent baseball, and we just got off to a bad start and it kind of snowballed on down from there. If you give up seven unearned runs you aren’t going to beat anybody.
The Lions committed four errors and gave up six unearned runs in the first two innings alone. After several cases during district play of not capitalizing with runners in scoring position, Boyd head coach Brooke Court and the Broncos were more than satisfied to come away with two big innings.
“It was huge,” said Court. “They came out and put a one-spot on us and it was good that we came back. We capitalized on it, and you have to when they throw the ball around a bit.”
McKinney got off to a quick start against Boyd starter Carson Chilton in the top of the first. After the game’s first pitch hit Garrett Christianson, he would come across to score on an RBI groundout by Brad Vassar. For the remaining six innings, Chilton struck out four hitters and allowed just three Lions to reach base. He would finish with four 1-2-3 innings on the mound, including a perfect seventh inning to complete the game.
“Chilton came out and threw really well,” said Court. “We talked to him before the game and had him focus on keeping the ball down, and he threw well for us tonight.”
“(Chilton) is a sinkerball guy so he is going to get ground balls, and we knew that coming in,” said Price. “You tip your hat to him because he did a good job. He commanded both sides of the plate and did exactly what you hope your pitcher would do.”
The Broncos continued to swing the bats well after Saturday’s 15-run, 15-hit outburst at Plano East. They batted around the lineup in the bottom of the first, as Will Hollis, Zach Hutcherson, Fran DeJesus, and Russell Williams all came across to score.
Boyd stayed hot the next inning versus Lions starter Kal Kilgo, who left the game with two outs and runners on second and first after allowing three more runs to score. Nathan Ahsam took over on the hill and went 3 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs, one of which was unearned. Jesse Cox would pitch the sixth inning and allow zero runs.
“The bats are starting to come alive and the kids are starting to feel comfortable now,” said Court. “They are adjusting their swings now instead of trying to hit the ball out of the park every time. We told them that when you put the ball in play good things usually happen. We got guys believing in that and today it helped us out.”
After sweeping both games versus Allen last week and committing only one error, Price said that he hopes his team responds well when MHS and Boyd meet up again at Al Alford Field on Friday night.
“I hope so,” Price said. “It will test our character a bit. We go through three ballgames playing real solid defense, but it just kind of snowballed there.”
In a pregame that saw several players interact with kids from the opposing team on the field, the familiarity of the players in this crosstown matchup was evident. Most of the kids play against or with one another during summer ball.
However, both coaches agree that despite the enjoyment of playing your peers in a competitive setting, it was just another district game for both teams.
“It will always be that way because they play against or with those kids in the summer, so it does have a little extra,” said Price. “But at the end of the day, it is an opposing team in a different uniform, and that is the way we approach it. There is nothing else riding on it. It is just another district game.”
“All the players know each other for a long time and they like it,” said Court. “We told them before the game that is not about them but about us.”
Boyd and MHS will meet up again Friday night at Al Alford Field, beginning at 7:30 p.m.