BURNET — It wasn’t the start Burnet High School baseball coach Todd Doucet was looking for.
After the first inning against Liberty Hill Tuesday, the Panthers took a 6-0 lead.
Worse, the Bulldogs (17-5, 3-0 in District 8-3A) were playing at Liberty Hill.
“Just about every score out of the six came on a walk,” Doucet said. “They picked up a couple of big hits off that.”
IN PHOTO: Burnet High School senior Dillon Chafin makes a clean throw to first base. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
So the coach gathered his players and reminded them of one fact.
“We always talk that if we get behind, we don’t have to score all the runs in one inning,” he said. “If we score one run an inning, we’re in the game again.”
It took eight innings, but in the end, Burnet remained undefeated in district en route to beating Liberty Hill, 13-10.
“Being 3-0 in district is huge,” Doucet said.
The Panthers hit a three-run homer in the sixth to take a 10-7 lead.
When the inning ended, Doucet didn’t let the players get down.
“I told them they needed to relax,” he said. “We know how to score three runs. We do it all the time.”
After the Bulldogs tied the game in the seventh, junior pitcher Emil Litterer struck out the ninth and lead-off batters in the lineup.
In the eighth inning, sophomore Cash Conovan hit the game-winning run in the eighth. Sophomore Ryan Rundzieher followed that with a hit to center field for 2 RBIs.
“It’s just another inning in that contest,” the Bulldogs skipper said. “It’s just what we do.”
Litterer (4-3-1) earned the win, pitching 4 2/3 innings where he gave up five hits, walked two, struck out four and gave up four earned runs.
Doucet said the Bulldogs displayed a lot of mental toughness in the victory.
“I’ve had a lot of people talk to me this week about just playing with confidence and having character when the chips are down,” he said. “It’s also the mark of a confident team, a team used to winning.”
The Bulldogs will host Leander Rouse 7:30 p.m. Friday to end the first round of league play.
Senior pitcher John Melvin (4-0) will get the start against Rouse.
Melvin helped the Bulldogs stay unbeaten by recording 13 strikeouts in the win against Leander Vandegrift.
“They couldn’t hit my curveball,” he said. “That was big, to get ahead in the count.”
Melvin, who also helped the Burnet basketball team reach the area round of the playoffs, said he pitched almost every day leading up to joining the baseball team.
“Because I have to get my arm ready for the season,” he said. “I’m not going to be able to come out coming from basketball and throw 100 pitches. From arm strength and arm-care perspective, I have to go out and throw.”
Melvin said the pitching staff has been performing well because of its depth, which is apparent on the subvarsity level, too.
“I think it’s everybody,” he said. “We’re pitching a lot of people. The JV guys are also pitching and would move up next year and provide a deep staff again.”
District 8-3A Standings:
Liberty Hill 2-1
Leander Rouse 1-2
Leander Vandegrift 0-4