VERNON, Texas The McLennan Highlanders went on the road to face the Vernon Chaparrals and are returning to Waco with a doubleheader sweep.
McLennan took game one 8-3 with Alex DeLeon picking up the win on the mound.
Vernon jumped out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first. Ryan Reed singled and Dylan Tackman was hit by the pitch. Nate Collins reached safely on an error, allowing Reed to score. Sergio Santa-Cruz followed with a single to score Tackman and Collins.
McLennan got on the board with a run in the second. Brett Squires drew a lead-off walk but was out at second on a fielder’s choice by Matthew Miles. Jordan Yeatts singled and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Miles then scored on a fielder’s choice by Aidan Shepardson.
The Highlanders added a run with Jalen Battles’ solo shot in the third.
McLennan took the lead with two runs in the fourth as Miles reached on an error and scored on Yeatts’ home run.
Another Highlander run scored in the fifth as Ryan Neitsch was hit by the pitch, moved to second on a ground out by Battles and scored on a single by Cole Moore.
The Highlanders rounded out the scoring with three runs in the top of the sixth. Squires led off with a double. Miles and Yeatts both walked to load the bases. Squires scored on a fielder’s choice by Shepardson. Vince Ippoliti followed with a double to score Yeatts, and Shepardson scored on a sacrifice fly by Neitsch.
McLennan took game two 10-5 with Jase Embry getting the win and Max Mize picking up a save.
Vernon jumped out to another early lead with four runs in the bottom of the first. Reed singled, Tackman doubled and Collins was hit by the pitch. Demetrius Young was safe at first on an error, allowing Reed to score. Tackman scored on a sacrifice fly by Ethan Rodriguez. Brooks Betcher reached on an error, and Kyle Harris singled to score Collins and Young.
McLennan took the lead with six runs in the fifth inning. Kendall Foster singled but was out at second on a fielder’s choice by Neitsch. Battles was hit by the pitch, and Moore singled to score Neitsch. Garrett Martin singled to load the bases. Squires followed with a triple, scoring Battles, Moore and Martin. Thomas Santos singled to score Squires, and Santos scored on a double by Yeatts.
Neitsch’s solo home run in the eighth put the Highlanders ahead by three, 7-4.
Vernon’s final run came in the bottom of the eighth. Rodriguez was safe on an error. Another error advanced Rodriguez to third and put Betcher on first. Rodriguez then scored on a sacrifice fly by Harris.
The Highlanders rounded out the scoring with three runs in the top of the ninth. Yeatts singled and stole second. Shepardson was safe on an error and Foster followed with a fielder’s choice, loading the bases. Neitsch was hit by the pitch, bringing Yeatts in to score. Battles then singled to score Shepardson and Foster was out at home plate. Martin followed with a single to score Neitsch.
“We ended up getting both wins today but we did not play as well as I would have liked to have seen us play. We did enough to win but anytime you give up multiple runs in the first inning of ballgames and are always playing from behind, that’s just not something you want to do,” head coach Mitch Thompson said. “Second thing is we made too many mistakes and too many physical errors. We had seven errors on the day but were still able to win the games mainly because we did throw strikes and were very tough on the mound after those first innings. We also ended up hitting nine extra base hits to Vernon’s one.”
“I’m glad we came back; I’m glad we ended up winning the ballgames. It is a doubleheader sweep on the road so you’ve got to say nice job on that but at the same time we are playing against a standard rather than just an opponent. We are trying to be good. We are trying to win games and play at a high, high level of play. Today, I just didn’t feel that our level of play was at a high level, a championship level,” Thompson said.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us; we’ve got to continue to get better. We are just challenging the guys to play the game based on a standard, don’t just play the opponent. Play the game and let’s know what good baseball looks like,” Thompson said.
McLennan and Vernon will complete the four-game series with a 1 p.m. doubleheader Saturday at Bosque River Ballpark.