Written by Corbett Smith
Closer dominates in unique chance to start as Carroll sweeps Marcus
Heineman goes season-high five innings in clincher
FLOWER MOUND — Southlake Carroll junior Joe Heineman didn’t have time to get nervous.
Heineman, an everyday shortstop and sometimes closer, found out Saturday morning that he’d be called on first to pitch in the resumption of Carroll’s rain-delayed Game 2 against Flower Mound Marcus in the Class 5A Region I semifinals. He had never started a varsity game, and had thrown only 172/3 innings this season.
“Take a deep breath,” Heineman said. “I trust that I can throw my pitches well enough to go out there and compete.”
Heineman didn’t just compete. He dominated, allowing two hits and striking out five in a season-long five innings, as Carroll swept the best-of-3 series with a 4-2 win.
“Joe dealt today,” Carroll first baseman Nic Motley said.
Carroll ace Tyler Alexander was the starting pitcher when Game 2 began Friday night, throwing 40 pitches through two innings. Marcus led, 2-1, in the top of the third inning before rain and lightning forced a postponement.
Carroll coach Larry Hughes decided to sit Alexander, a TCU signee and potential major league draft selection, with thoughts of using him late in relief.
Heineman, who expected to be utilized as a closer in Game 2, didn’t get the memo.
“It was a little bit of a surprise,” Heineman said. “Last night, our pitching coach, Coach [Larry] Vucan said that Tyler would come back in and pitch at least through the fourth if he stayed on par.”
Alexander warmed up in the bullpen in the seventh inning, but wasn’t needed.
Heineman used a circle changeup that broke down in the strike zone to get ahead of hitters, allowing only one runner to reach third base.
Nick Lewis, a Baylor signee, resumed his start for Marcus (32-8) after a 15-hour delay, but struggled to find the form he showed on Friday.
Carroll (34-4-1) regained the lead soon after Game 2 restarted. Drew Brown tied the game with an RBI single two batters into Saturday’s resumption, and Motley hit a two-run single later in the inning. Motley, the team’s back-up catcher, was inserted into the lineup at first base for his offense and went 4-for-5 with 4 RBIs in the series.
“Personally, that was huge for me, because I made an error yesterday that led to their two runs,” Motley said.
Carroll will face Arlington Martin next week in the regional final. It’s a rematch of last year’s Region I final that Martin won in three games.
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN