One Cove team clinches, one left standing in quest for TTAB State berth
By TJ MAXWELL
HARKER HEIGHTS - One Copperas Cove baseball team clinched a spot in the Texas Teenage State Baseball Championships while another team was still alive last night fighting for their spot.
The 14-and-under Copperas Cove Rangers finished the regular season undefeated at 9-0-1 and continued that streak during the TTAB 14U District Tournament held this week in Harker Heights to clinch a spot in the state tournament to be held in Groesbeck beginning July 24.
After receiving a first-round bye, the Rangers downed the Cameron Marlins and the Gatesville’s Big Boy Construction to earn a spot in the semifinals against the Rogers Eagles on Wednesday night.
The Rangers jumped on top of the Eagles with two runs early before both teams defenses stepped up over the next few innings until a double by Vincent Moreno and a RBI single by Joseph Campos gave the Rangers a three-run advantage.
The Rangers added another run in the top of the sixth inning when Campos knocked in Josiah Key on a fielder’s choice. Key reached on a dropped third strike and was moved around on a single by Dylan Martinez and an intentional walk to Moreno, who doubled in his last at bat, to load the bases with two outs.
The Eagles cut into the lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning but the Rangers equalled those efforts with two more runs in the top of the seventh inning to open up a 6-2 lead.
A lead-off single by pick-up player Elmo Bailey and another single by pick-up player Sean Reneau. A single by Isiah Marcus then moved Bailey third before scoring on an error. Reneau then stole second and third before advancing home on a pick-off throwing error.
The Eagles threatened again in the bottom of the inning with a bases-loaded RBI single but a 5-3 double play by the Rangers ended the threat and secured their trip to Gatesville.
Their district mission wasn’t over, however. Their victory over The Eagles earned them a spot in the state tournament but a district championship was still hanging in the balance.
The Rangers had two opportunities to claim the district crown (results not available at press time). The Rangers played the winners of the Rogers Eagles/Bartlett Bulldogs matchup at 8:30 p.m. last night. A win would give the Rangers the district crown and a loss would set up a rematch today at 6 p.m.
The 12-and-under Astros had a tougher road to the semifinals. After defeating fellow Coveites the Rangers in the opening round, the Astros suffered their first loss of the tournament to the McGregor Horned Frogs.
The Astros then beat the Cove Red Sox and the Gatesville Leon River Mercantile team in back-to-back contests on Wednesday to advance to Thursday’s championship playback game where they will get a rematch against the Horned Frogs at 6 p.m. to see who will face the McGregor Raiders in the title game at 8 p.m. The Astros would have to beat the Raiders twice to earn the district title but the only need to beat the Horned Frogs to advance to state (results not available at press time.
Should the Astros rally to earn the state berth, they will compete at the Bert Massey Sports Complex in Brownwood beginning July 24.
The Cove Red Sox, Giants and Rangers each suffered opening round losses before the Cove Astros and Gatesville Leon River eliminated them in the second round.
In the 10U division, both Copperas Cove teams see an early exit from their district tourney held in Gatesville.
The Cove Rays lost to the host Gatesville Stanley Dodge team in the opening round and to the Troy Trojans in round two while the Cove White Sox fell to the McGregor Legends in the opener and lost to Jonesboro Baptist Church in the second round.
The road was similar for the Cove 8U teams in McGregor.
All four teams dropped their opening round contests.
The Knights lost to the Moody Bearcats, the Owlz lost to Gatesville’s Studebakers Pizza, The Strom Chasers lost to the Studebakers in round two after receiving a first-round bye and the Threshers lost to Gatesville Cargill.
The Storm Chasers kept their hopes alive with a win over the Threshers in the next round to advance to play Moody in the quarterfinal round but they were unable to make it through the day and were eliminated from contention.
The Copperas Cove Parks and Recreation Department will host the TTAB 10U State Tournament beginning Monday, July 24 with the undefeated Astros and 7-2 Red Sox representing the City of Cove.