“We’ve been talking about this since before the season. This is where we wanted to be and we’re really looking forward to it. We don’t want to stop here, our goal is state, but this is where we have to continue to get better and dig deep. We’ve thought about this one a lot.”
Katy never had any doubts heading into its series against Tompkins.
The Tigers had lost to the Falcons both times they faced earlier this season, but Katy had all the confidence heading into the third round matchup, and the Tigers knew they had what it took to take down Tompkins.
Katy never had a let down over the course of the two games and the Tigers took game two on Saturday 5-3 over Tompkins, sweeping the Falcons to advance to their second straight regional semifinal.
“They caught us at a bad time this season and we just wanted to show what type of team we are in this series,” said short stop Graham Laxton. “We talked after the second time we played them in district and we told ourselves, ‘we will see them in the playoffs, and we are going to have to be ready.’ All of this week we prepared and we wanted this. We didn’t let the game get too big, we played our kind of baseball and we knew that if we hopped on them early today we would be able to handle whatever they threw at us and that’s what we did.”
Katy had three pitchers combine for a no-hitter in the game, as Lucas Moore went three innings, allowing three runs to go with three walks and three hit by pitches before Cade Nelson threw three shutout innings, striking out three and Cole Kaase closed the game with a clean bottom of the seventh inning. And Katy scored four first inning runs to break the game open early on, with Laxton driving in three on an inside the park home run and Katy bringing in another on a Sutton Hull single.
“Those runs in the first were huge,” said Katy head coach Wes Hearne. “It let our guys get settled in. Lucas pitched three great innings for us and then Cade has been absolutely outstanding for us. Cole got us through it there in the seventh too and that was big. He hadn’t pitched this week, so to come out of the bullpen in a different role and do what he did was really good as well.”
Tompkins got into the game with three runs without a hit in the third inning. Katy got a big insurance run right back in the fourth inning when Nayden Ramirez hit an RBI single to drive in Kaase. Katy’s pitching and defense secured the win the rest of the way.
“The kids just stepped up,” Hearne said. “They played hard, they wanted it and they had high energy the entire time. They just wanted this, they never let up and they played like this could be their last game. I’m just so proud of them right now.”
It will be the second straight year Katy has made it to the regional semifinal, and the sting of last year’s defeat still hasn’t left the Katy clubhouse. The Tigers took regional finalist Strake Jesuit to three games, falling 2-1 in game three last year. That has been the fuel for the Tigers entire playoff run, where they haven’t dropped a game.
Katy will play Clear Springs in the regional semifinals, a team that the Tigers tied 11-11 in tournament play earlier this year.
“We’ve been talking about this since before the season,” Kaase said. “This is where we wanted to be and we’re really looking forward to it. We don’t want to stop here, our goal is state, but this is where we have to continue to get better and dig deep. We’ve thought about this one a lot.”