Before the District 7-4A baseball race got under way, it was widely expected to be a three-team race between Granbury, Arlington Heights and Aledo.
Midway through district, nothing is settled. After seven games, the Pirates, Bearcats and Yellowjackets are deadlocked, each at 6-1 in league play.
Granbury created the tie with a 5-2 home victory against Heights Friday.
“That’s as big a win as it gets,” said Granbury coach Brad Eppler.
“For us to maintain where we want to and remain in the championship hunt, we had to win tonight.”
The Pirates (12-7 overall) fell behind 2-0 in the top of the second when Heights (10-7 overall) scored a pair of unearned runs.
But Granbury had Nathan Hickey pitching, so Heights was either going to shut the Pirates down or likely lose.
Heights starting pitcher Bob Henli issued seven walks, more than enough to give the Pirates some cushion with Hickey on the mound.
Hickey (5-0) was as efficient as he’s been all season. He scattered six hits, walked one and struck out nine.
Hickey threw 77 pitches in seven innings – 57 of which were strikes.
“Nathan was as sharp as he’s been – and he’s striking out great hitters,” said Eppler. “Every hit he gave up was a seeing-eye ground ball, and you’re going to give up some hits to those guys.”
Hickey has 63 strikeouts this season and is seeking to become only the third pitcher in GHS history to strike out 100 in a season. He fanned 99 last season.
Hickey’s ERA is a miniscule 0.52.
Landon Weatherly, Payton Rhodes and Tristan Fallin led the Pirates at the plates with two hits each. Weatherly had a triple with a walk and RBI, and Fallin had a double and RBI.
The Pirates are just a couple of plays from being alone at the top of district as the second half gets under way. They led 3-0 at Aledo last Tuesday going into the bottom of the seventh inning before errors helped the Bearcats (18-2, No. 7 in the state) to a 4-3 victory.
Aledo and Heights were playing last night in Aledo. The Yellowjackets defeated the Bearcats 2-1 in Fort Worth in the district opener.
The Pirates host Aledo April 22 and travel to Heights April 25 in a pair of games that could decide the district title.
“We can’t fall asleep on somebody like Trimble Tech (fourth in district, 4-3) or South Hills,” he said. “We’ve got to keep beating the teams we should beat, and if we do we’ve got a chance to win district.”
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Arl. Heights 020 000 0 – 2 6 2
Granbury 001 202 x – 5 8 1
Granbury pitching – Nathan Hickey 7 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs (0 earned), 1 walk, 9 strikeouts.
Granbury hitting – Landon Weatherly 2-3, walk, triple, RBI; Payton Rhodes 2-2, walk; Tristan Fallin 2-3, double, RBI; Daniel Arnett 1-3; N. Hickey 1-4; Landon Gray walk; Matthew Hickey walk; Josh Yarbrough 3 walks.
Records – Granbury 12-7, 6-1 in 7-4A; Heights 10-7, 6-1