Earlier this month, the Lake Dallas Falcons (27-10) were thrilled to be one of the 128 baseball teams in 4A that had made it to the playoffs. Last weekend, they returned home from Midland, TX, as one of only 16 teams still playing 4A playoff baseball. The UIL Region I Regional Semifinals now awaits the Falcons.
And for Lake Dallas, it’s back to their backyard for what proves to be an excellent matchup with the Burleson Elks (24-16); a team that this time last year had made it to the Regional Quarterfinals, but as a 5A team.
Burleson swept their District 7-4A counterparts, (and number 1 seed) Crowley last weekend; and took game 1 with a dramatic, extra-inning, walk-off home run by Senior Levi Scott for the 9-8 win.
Game 2 was moved to Saturday afternoon after a rainout, and Burleson took that game easily, 2-0. Crowley had swept Burleson during the regular season, and Burleson (3rd seed) gladly returned the favor in the playoffs.
Playing a team that was seeded higher than the Falcons is nothing new for them. In fact, the Elks are the third-straight number 3 seed for the Falcons to face. Canyon, the Falcons first playoff foe came into the matchup as a number 1 seed.
Burleson players to watch out for:
As the name “Burleson” seems to imply, the Elks have a burly and intimidating set of senior pitchers that form a nasty one-two combination.
Levi Scott Jr. (6’ 4”, 215) and fellow right-handed ace Blake Perkins, (6’ 3”, 220) create an imposing presence on the hill. Perkins (UTA) is as intimidating on the mound as his frame would suggest. He throws a hard-biting fastball from the ¾ slot that can sizzle into the mid-90’s. Levi Scott, (who possesses “light-tower” power at the plate) has excellent velocity but tends to over throw and get behind in counts.
Scott, last year’s District 3-5A MVP, hit .513 with 11 home runs and 41 RBI over the 2011 season, and can crush anything in his wheelhouse. The Elks offense is one built around him, but other excellent hitters of note are catcher Dalton DeLeon, .403 BA with 3 HR, including a solo shot last weekend. Sabo Murray, the Elks’ shortstop is also a dangerous hitter, batting .400 with 6 homeruns and 36 RBI.
Against a Randall Raiders team that featured infinitely better pitching than Clint Horizon, the Falcons hit .327 as a team. More important than their batting average was the timeliness of their offense. In every inning that Randall scored, the Falcons plated their own runs either in the same frame, or the next. And on the two occasions that Randall held the lead, the Falcons reclaimed it within an inning.
Dalyn Williams and Tim Drozd drove-in 6 of the 8 runs in their opening-game win against Randall last Friday night in Midland, TX.
Williams has really only had one tough game at the plate, and that was way back in game 1 against Canyon. Since then, he’s smoked seemingly every pitch thrown his way. Against Randall, he hit .571 with 4 RBI, 4 runs scored, 2 doubles, a triple, and a tape measure shot that gave the Falcons their first lead of the series in game 1.
Tim Drozd, coming off a series where he hit over .700, was once again torrid from the batter’s box. He had 4 RBI on his way to a .429 batting average.
Dylan Andrews hit .667 in last weekend’s series. He came up big with a third inning lead-off triple, and scored the Falcons’ first run of the game.
Despite 6 errors, the Falcons got a huge boost in the Randall series from some excellent defense.
Senior Tyler Waller ended game 1 and a furious Randall rally with an excellent throw to the plate for the final out of the game.
Game 2 featured big-time throws from Falcons catcher Chad Pennington. Pennington threw out all three would-be base stealers in a game where base runners were at a premium.
Falcons can advance to the Regional Finals if:
As noted, the Falcons had some difficulty defensively in the regional quarterfinals. However, they managed enough clutch hits and outstanding plays to neutralize the potential negative consequence of these mishaps.
The Falcons need to tighten up the leather and continue their solid pitching and clutch hitting to take down the mighty Elks. In addition, a game 1 win is of heightened importance.
Obviously, winning game 1 is always huge; and the Falcons have done that in every series thus far. But with the layout of this series, (Burleson, Lake Dallas, Neutral) a game 1 win can create a psychological advantage not to be discounted, thus making it even more paramount.
Everyone loves home field advantage. But when you have a chance to slay the dragon in his own dungeon, the result can be crippling.
But, if Burleson sneaks away with a win in the first game, where else would you rather extend the series than in your own home? In that scenario, you’ve got to love that game 3 is neutral; it evens the playing field for a one-game playoff atmosphere where any type of home-field advantage is essentially neutralized.
And as in every previous series, the Lake Dallas Falcons have a decided advantage (in terms of a game 3 scenario) with a very deep bullpen.
Game 1 of the Regional Semifinals will be at 7:00 PM in Burleson, TX. Game 2 will be at 7:00 PM in Lake Dallas at Falcons Field. Game 3, if necessary, will be played in Grapevine, TX at 7:00 PM.
For those who can’t make the trip to Burleson, fear not, you can catch the Falcons’ baseball action from the comfort of your own home. Simply log on, using this link.
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