State Championship Preview (PHOTO GALLERY): Keller and Rockwall-Heath battle for the UIL Class 6A State Title
It's an all-DFW area UIL Class 6A baseball state championship game as Keller attempts to "win Texas" in their first-ever championship appearance and Rockwall-Heath fights for their first state title since 2012.
Senior pitcher Eric Hammond led the charge on Friday for the Indians as he dominated the game from the mound allowing only four hits and one run to defeat Houston Strake Jesuit 7-1. The USC signee recorded nine strikeouts in six innings. Keller took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third inning as junior Mike Dattalo drove senior Griffin Barton home with a sacrifice fly. With smart batting from Whit Thoms, Aidan Connors, and Dattalo, the Indians were able to secure the victory in the state semifinals.
With a goal to "win Texas," Keller has posted a 35-7 overall record this season and has only one more opponent standing between them and their goal.
Junior pitcher Baylor Baumann took to the field on Friday as the Hawks were set to play against Comal Smithson Valley- one of the most stacked with D1 signees teams in the state. Allowing only four hits in the state semifinals, Baumann pitched a complete game to lead Heath to an 8-4 victory over Smithson Valley. On top of impeccable pitching, Heath's offense came out shining taking a quick 5-0 lead. An attempt at a rally for Smithson Valley was cut short as Heath took the victory.
Rockwall-Heath will attempt to win a state title for the first time since 2012. With a 37-11-1 overall record, the Hawks will have an opportunity to nab their program's second state title when they take on Keller.
What To Expect
Although the two teams haven't met this season, coming out of the same area, they share many common opponents. While Rockwall-Heath has posted a 5-3 record over common opponents, Keller has posted a 7-2 record. Both have had big wins over the likes of Rockwall and Mansfield en route to their championship appearance.
Both teams have the pitching depth that it takes to play on this stage with a level of high school baseball that is unmatchable, but the win is going to come down to the bats. With incredible defense coming out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it's going to be a battle of the bats to really decide who wins Texas.
The championship game will be held at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas with a first-pitch time of 4 p.m.
Rockwall-Heath baseball is gearing up to face Smithson Valley in the UIL Class 6A State Semifinal matchup. Let's take a look at the breakdown between the teams per MaxPreps.
The Hawks have posted a 36-11-1 record on the season en route to the UIL State Semifinals. With a strong offense and an even stronger defense, the Hawks have been favorited to win state despite a couple of injuries to key players throughout the season.
Outscoring their opponents by 71 runs on the season, the Hawks offense is cohesive with eight athletes batting over .300. Seniors Karson Krowka (.326), Kevin Bazzell (.431), Zach Rike (.312), Kaston Maston (.371), juniors Aidan Johnson (.304), Alex Stowers (.308) and Jett Williams (.341) along with freshman Caleb Hoover (.322) should be watched in this huge matchup.
Smithson Valley Rangers
The Rangers have posted a 35-5 record on the season with impressive defensive skills. Holding their opponents to only 61 runs on the season while their offense has scored over 300 runs themselves, the Rangers will be the toughest team that Rockwall-Heath has had to face all season.
Not only is Smithson Valley good at scoring early, often, and consistently throughout their games, they have pitching depth that keeps them out of trouble. Senior Brandon Taylor has tossed 14 undefeated games while junior Tim Arguello has an 11-1 record on the bump. Arguello has also posted a .383 batting average on the year.
At the plate, the Rangers have over half the lineup that's batting over .400 to include junior Wyatt Hansen (batting .600 on the season) and freshman MJ Espinosa (batting .500 on the season).
It will be a battle to the finish. If Rockwall-Heath's bats can overcome the firewall that is Smithson Valley's defense, they just might have what it takes to advance to the state championship game.
The semifinals matchup is set to begin at 7 p.m. Friday at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.