Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Potent lineup was key to Rockwall-Heath’s long-awaited 4A title
ROUND ROCK — Few teams come to the state tournament with pitchers as dominant as Rockwall-Heath’s Jake Thompson and Jovan Hernandez. But even fewer come into the championship game with a lineup that can frustrate opposing pitchers the way Rockwall-Heath did Friday night.
From the top of the lineup to the bottom, Rockwall-Heath sent shots flying to all parts of Dell Diamond. The result was a 10-1 victory over Cleburne that gave Rockwall-Heath the Class 4A title it has desperately wanted the last three seasons.
“It’s the best feeling in the whole world,” shortstop Bret Boswell said. “I’m so excited, I can’t even explain it.”
Explaining how Rockwall-Heath (36-9) won the game is much easier. Hernandez pitched a four-hitter a day after Thompson threw a complete game in the semifinals. He was locked in from the first pitch to the last, striking out five and walking only one.
Hernandez also blasted a two-run homer that was part of a 12-hit attack that included seven players getting hits. Hernandez and Boswell each had two hits and Timbo Duncan was 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs.
Duncan almost decided not to play this season as he prepares to attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
“I’m happy that I stayed,” he said. “I get that ring.”
Rockwall-Heath finally got its title after piling up a record of 138-31-1 the last four seasons. The Hawks lost in the regional finals the last two years, but they took advantage of their opportunity in a big way against Cleburne (30-11).
Cleburne’s Conner Martyniuk singled to lead off the second inning and stole second. Back-to-back groundouts pushed him across the plate for a 1-0 lead, but it lasted only about 10 minutes.
Rockwall-Heath evened the score on Duncan’s RBI single in the bottom of the second, and Hernandez clobbered a two-run homer just inside the foul pole to make the score 3-1 in the third. Rockwall-Heath kept piling it on the next three innings. The Hawks knocked out starter German Hernandez after three innings.
Just how good was Rockwall-Heath’s lineup?
The final four hitters — Duncan, Grayson Lewis, Russell Hughes and Clayton Rasbeary -- combined for seven hits Friday. Rasbeary had two doubles in the game, one of which was a few feet short of being a home run.
And he was the No. 9 hitter.
There was no chance to relax against this lineup. No chance for a pitcher to catch his breath or for a team to try to bail water out of its battered ship. Rockwall-Heath just kept firing off shots.
“It’s been that way all year long,” coach Greg Harvey said. “Guys have come through wherever we put them. Up and down the lineup, somebody was always coming up big.”
It was never bigger than Friday night for Rockwall-Heath, which won its first state title.
“Finally,” Duncan said, “we got it.”
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