Written by Corbett Smith
Carroll ace escapes jam in 4-0 shutout of Fossil Ridge
Fossil Ridge fails to capitalize after loading bases in first inning
SOUTHLAKE — Southlake Carroll pitcher Ben Leeper needed a good performance with his team’s district title hopes in the balance. Carroll’s ace, though, almost missed his chance to be the difference.
Leeper survived a 29-pitch first inning, getting out of a bases-loaded jam en route to a complete-game two-hitter as Carroll beat Keller Fossil Ridge, 4-0.
“They started off real hot, and I ended up having to get out of that jam,” Leeper said.
The win tied Carroll (24-4, 10-3) with Fossil Ridge (21-8, 10-3) at the top to the District 4-5A standings with a week remaining in the regular season. Carroll, the No. 1 team in the SportsDayHS rankings and fourth in the state, had scuffled in the past two weeks, dropping district games to Richland and Keller and falling a game behind Fossil Ridge in the district race. Now, with two wins over Fossil Ridge, Carroll holds the tiebreaker.
Leeper and seniors Joe Heineman and Drew Brown were instrumental in slowing the slide.
Fossil Ridge’s Kenniel Rivera led off the game with a triple, and Leeper loaded the bases with two walks before getting out the first inning with a strikeout — one of 10. Leeper didn’t allow another batter to reach second base.
“Ben’s just been pitching lights out for us,” Carroll coach Larry Hughes said.
Brown led off a two-run third inning with a double, scoring on an error, while Heineman drove in Brown in the fifth on a two-out, two-strike pitch.
“We’ve had great pitching all year,” Hughes said. “If we can play defense like we did tonight and consistently get some runs across, we can do some things.”