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BROWNWOOD — Burnet High School head baseball coach Todd Doucet asked his players one question before they exited the team bus to face Abilene Wylie.
IN PHOTO: Burnet first baseman Kyler Payne tries to get the Abilene Wylie runner out. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
“In 20 years, when you bring your kids back to Burnet, how do you want to be remembered?” he said. “Do you want a sign that says regional semifinalists or one that says state champions?”
After dropping game one, the boys in green (29-9) decided they wanted the ultimate sign — state champions — and came back to down Wylie, 3-2 and 10-8, Saturday.
Burnet will face Lubbock Estacado in the Class 3A Region I finals at McMurry University in Abilene.
Game one is slated for 7:30 p.m. Thursday with game two to be played 3 p.m. Saturday. If necessary, game three will follow game two.
Doucet said he told his players before the start of game two against Wylie to be prepared to do whatever it took to tie the series.
“I told them we were going to do everything we could to win game two,” he said. “We weren’t going to spare any expense in trying to win. Our plan was to win game two and put pressure on Wylie.”
That’s exactly what happened thanks to senior pitcher John Melvin (8-0).
Melvin gave Wylie a taste of their own medicine by forcing them to strand 11 runners in the contest. Wylie forced Burnet to leave 10 in game one.
Wylie was able to score both runs in the bottom of the first inning, before Melvin demonstrated his defensive pitching.
Burnet stiffened on defense. Sophomore third baseman Ryan Rundzieher read a squeeze play perfectly. He charged after the bunted ball and gunned down the runner at home to prevent Wylie from scoring.
Melvin struck out the next batter, walked another and forced the last one to fly out to end Wylie’s final scoring threat.
“Wylie fought in game two,” Doucet said. “They fought the whole game. We felt fortunate we got out of a couple of jams.”
Wylie committed five errors in the contest, allowing the boys in green to plate three runs for the win.
Before the start of game three, the Burnet skipper said he told his players the pressure was back on Wylie.
“It got hot,” he said. “It was definitely over a hundred degrees. Both teams were a little bit worn out.”
Burnet rolled to a 7-0 lead in the second inning and extended it to 9-2 in the sixth inning.
Wylie took advantage of Burnet errors and two walks to load the bases before hitting a grand slam home run on the 10th pitch to close the gap, 9-7.
“All of the sudden, it was a ball game,” Doucet said.
Senior designated hitter Dillon Chafin responded with a solo home run.
Wylie wouldn’t quit though. They began with two hits in the seventh. After an out, a line drive was hit to senior shortstop Hunter Ellett, who made the out and threw to junior Emil Litterer at second base for the double play to end the contest.
Pitcher Litterer (6-3-1) earned
the win, while senior pitcher Travis Hoffmeister (8-2-2) recorded the save.