GEORGETOWN — For three innings, the Gatesville Hornets matched the Burnet High School baseball team out for out Wednesday in the Class 3A regional quarterfinals.
But in the end, one difference allowed the Bulldogs to claim an 8-1 victory and move to the regional semifinals.
“We have a lot of guys who have two or three years experience,” head coach Todd Doucet said. “They handle pressure really well. Gatesville has a lot of sophomores and juniors. Gatesville is going to be a force for years to come.”
The Bulldogs await the winner of the Abilene Wylie-Brownwood match. The best-of-three series will be played this weekend.
Burnet pitcher Travis Hoffmeister earned the win thanks to giving up one earned run on three hits, three walks, one hit by a pitch and nine strikeouts.
In two playoff outings, the Bulldog has given up only three hits, one earned run and one unearned run.
“We’re trying not to look at him,” Doucet said jokingly. “He came out and battled. When he throws strikes, he’s hard to beat.”
The Hornets broke a scoreless contest in the third inning. Cody Nichols led off with a single and went home when the infielder committed to throwing out Micah Thompson at first, 1-0.
From there Burnet scored eight unanswered runs.
In the fourth inning, sophomore Ryan Rundzieher hit a single to center field and went home on a throwing error. The other runner scored on a pass ball, 2-1.
In the next inning, senior Greg Parker reached on a fielding error. Junior Emil Litterer singled to right field. Senior Dillon Chafin walked to load the bases.
Rundzieher hit an RBI single. Junior catcher Grant Martin hit a triple to clear the bases, 6-1.
Doucet laughed at the notion that he called for that result.
“I wish I had a signal for a triple,” he said. “We wanted to hit the ball to the right side. We felt very fortunate to get that triple. I felt like that triple was the difference in the game.”
Burnet added two runs in the sixth.
“Our game plan was to get guys on base and hit the ball,” the Bulldogs skipper said. “When you get ahead of someone, it’s easy to coach.”
Hoffmeister ended the game on giving up a single, striking out two and forcing the last Hornet to hit into a fielder’s choice 6-4 out.
Gatesville pitcher Thomas Weber (9-1) was credited with the loss. He gave up three earned runs on six hits, walked four and struck out nine.
The Hornets recorded five errors in the contest.
“That’s baseball,” Doucet said. “I felt like when we went ahead, it put all the pressure on Gatesville.”