Tompkins’ baseball team added another chapter to a storybook season Saturday afternoon with a 5-0 Game 3 regional quarterfinal win over Cy-Fair at Tomball Memorial High.
TOMBALL—Tompkins’ baseball team added another chapter to a storybook season Saturday afternoon with a 5-0 Game 3 regional quarterfinal win over Cy-Fair at Tomball Memorial High.
In winning a do-or-die Game 3 for the second straight playoff series, the Falcons earned their 31st win, continuing to eclipse their previous program-best single-season mark of 26. But even more significant, No. 31 booked their first trip to the regional semifinals.
“We got a lot of firsts this year,” coach Kyle Humphreys said. “Thirty wins. Now the regional semis. It’s a credit to our pitching staff. We’re going to hit, but our pitching is going to have to be good. We put up a lot of zeroes this week.”
Indeed, Tompkins (31-7-1) outscored a gritty Cy-Fair club, 12-1, to advance to next week’s Class 6A Region III semifinals against Strake Jesuit. In doing so, the Falcons showed off a deep pitching rotation.
In a Game 1 7-0 win in Tomball on May 20, junior left-hander Solomon Rotberg threw a complete-game shutout, striking out six and walking one while allowing four hits in seven innings. In a 1-0 Game 2 loss the following night in Cypress, only the second time thisl season the Falcons have been shutout, sophomore left-hander Ty Dagley and junior right-hander Trevor Esparza combined to allow one unearned run on two hits while striking out five and walking six.
In the crucial Game 3 win, junior right-hander Michael DeBattista threw six innings for the win, allowing no runs on five hits while striking out five and walking two. Junior left-hander Jace Laviolette pitched the seventh, striking out two and allowing two hits.
“Shout-out to our pitching,” senior shortstop Graiden West said. “No earned runs through the entire series. That’s what we need to win games. They threw strikes, they limited walks. That’s huge. They didn’t let too many free bases, and that’s what we need. Teams will try to steal on us and get ahead on us, and our pitching shut that down.”
DeBattista, who had an up-and-down early part of the season, was impressive. He threw strikes, mixed pitches well and was commended by Humphreys for his work holding runners from extra bases. Despite an infection on his finger that caused DeBattista’s velocity to dwindle late, Cy-Fair hardly threatened against him.
“I knew they’re aggressive hitters, so I tried to get ahead, locate my fastball early. Not walk anybody,” DeBattista said. “I had a job to do. I feel pretty happy about how I did. Early in the season, I was down on myself a bit with how I was pitching. I feel like I’ve improved, and right now I have the confidence in myself to perform whenever I need to.”
He had more than enough help at the plate.
After a bizarre offensive performance in which they struck out five times and only had two hits against Bobcats ace Gray St. Amant in Game 2, the Falcons were aggressive and potent against right-hander Jonathon Burrer.
West got it started with a no-doubt shot to deep left field to lead off the second inning, his fifth homer of the season.
“I saw first-pitch fastball right down the middle,” West said. “I let it loose. Crack the game open, get it started. We were looking for first-pitch fastball. We obviously hopped on it. Lots of doubles, lots of extra-base hits today. That was our approach. We needed some momentum, so we got some right there.”
It was an avalanche from there. Junior Tyler Brownlee scored on an error. Junior Jack Little had an RBI double and RBI single. Senior Patrick Chastain had a perfectly-executed run-scoring sacrifice bunt.
In all, Tompkins had 10 hits, led by sophomore Drew Markle going 3-for-4.
“(In Game 2), they threw their best guy, and props to him. He threw a great game,” Markle said. “But I think our mindset just changed. We did what we needed to do to score runs. I knew (Burrer) was going to go fastball-in. I knew he’d break his stuff away, My approach was to take it away, take it up the middle. They left some off-speed on the inside I was able to pull.”
Another key for Tompkins was limiting Cy-Fair in the running game. The Bobcats had just four stolen bases in the three games.
The Falcons’ defense and pitching were conscientious about playing the drag bunt and keeping the lead-off hitter from reaching base. In Game 3, the Bobcats’ lead-off hitter reached base in only three of seven innings.
After Cy-Fair eliminated Tompkins in the regional quarters two years—with Tompkins winning Game 1 in decisive fashion before dropping the next two games—the Falcons exacted sweet revenge. And now they’ve earned the right to keep playing as Katy ISD’s lone team left standing.
“It’s a great program to be a part of,” West said. “Coach Humphreys does a great job, man. I’m excited to be a part of history. This is awesome.”
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