JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — A come-from-behind 6-4 victory April 12 against Dripping Springs kept the Marble Falls High School baseball team atop the district standings.
Marble Falls won the series 2-1 although the Tigers captured the final game of the series 10-4 on April 13.
The first inning on April 12 couldn’t have started better for the Tigers as Dripping Springs scored four runs off three hits and two walks.
Marble Falls senior catcher Joey Blackledge called a timeout and talked to senior pitcher Cole Ridgely.
“You have to keep throwing strikes,” he recalled saying. “We have a great defense. Sometimes pitchers think they have to do too much. I just reminded him to keep throwing strikes.”
Mustangs head coach J.T. Blair said Ridgely battled out of the first inning funk.
“That’s uncharacteristic of him, especially the two walks,” head coach J.T. Blair said. “He kept battling and found his rhythm. He got tough when the going got tough.”
From that point on, the Tigers didn’t score again. The Mustangs retired 18 of 19 batters as Ridgely gave up only two hits and one hit by pitch.
Two of those runners were caught stealing, and the other baserunner was stranded.
“I really thought that was the difference,” Blair said. “Our team played defense, and that’s what gave us the win.”
Meanwhile, the Mustangs finally got on the board in the third inning when senior Stacy Heinatz hit a two-RBI double off the left-field wall that made Dripping Springs pay for back-to-back walks.
“We’re mentally tough,” Blackledge said. “We’re never mentally out of a game.”
Marble Falls took the lead in the fifth with three runs off two walks. Blackledge scored on a throwing error and senior Jimmy Damico ran home on a wild pitch. Later in the inning a sacrifice fly ball from Heinatz scored junior courtesy runner J.T. Watson.
The Mustangs then added another run in the sixth inning. Two Dripping Springs throwing errors allowed senior Jay Watson to score all the way from first base.
Blair said he told his players they needed to force Dripping Springs pitcher Austin Kufrovich into longer pitch counts.
“After the first two innings, I looked over at our coaches and said, ‘We have to be more patient,'” he said. “Sure enough, that’s what we started doing. That’s Mustang baseball. I told the players we weren’t going to lead off with a five-run homer. We had to get guys on base. That’s been the mindset of our team.”
ON DEFENSE: (Game 2) Winning pitcher — (MF) Cole Ridgely (8-1): 4 earned runs off 5 hits with 2 walks, 1 hit by a pitch and 4 strikeouts; Losing pitcher — (DS) Austin Kufrovich (5-1): 3 earned runs off 2 hits, 4 walks, 1 hit by a pitch, 1 wild pitch and 4 strikeouts. (Game 3) Winning pitcher — Kyle Johnson (4-1): 4 runs with 3 strikeouts in 6 innings; Losing pitcher — (MF) Garrett Winslett (1-1)
QUOTABLE: “I knew (Dripping Springs was) going to have their A-game, and they did. They were locked in and were ready to play. That’s what good teams do,” Blair said.
RECORDS: Marble Falls is 20-5 overall and 12-3 in District 25-4A; Dripping Springs is 17-10 overall and 11-4 in district play.
Marble Falls, 12-3
Dripping Springs, 11-4
Cedar Park Vista Ridge, 7-8
Cedar Park, 5-10
Leander Rouse, 6-9
Leander Vandegrift, 4-14