The Decatur Eagles and Bridgeport Bulls split their meetings in District 7-3A with each claiming tight, two-run victories at home.
Now the longtime rivals will meet for a third time Friday to decide which team will continue its season. The Eagles (14-13, 6-4) will take on the Bulls (20-7, 6-4) at Byron Nelson High School in Trophy Club at 7:30 p.m. in a battle for the third playoff spot out of 7-3A.
“There’s not many times that you get to play Bridgeport for a playoff spot,” said Decatur shortstop DJ Roberts. “It should be exciting.”
Decatur won the first round March 30 during its 4-0 start to district play. Jeremy Adams tossed a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory. Chris Saunders drove in the game-winning run with a fifth-inning single just over Bridgeport shortstop Alex Samples.
Bridgeport won the rematch April 17 with Reese Read providing a three-run double in the second inning of a 4-2 victory. All six runs were scored in the second inning.
After two tight affairs, the squads anticipate another close game.
“Both teams have good players, and it’ll come down to whoever does the little things right,” said Bridgeport pitcher Omar Martinez, who won the second meeting, holding Decatur to two runs on four hits.
Bridgeport comes in with momentum on its side. After starting district 2-2, the Bulls have won four of their final six league games to get into the playoff. They are coming off a 14-1 win over Castleberry Saturday.
“We’ve pitched well and played good defense all season,” said Bridgeport coach Ted Leps. “Our hitting left us. But facing everyone’s best pitcher, you don’t expect to score a lot of runs. Saturday, we came around and started hitting.
“We’re pretty excited to play for a playoff.”
Decatur, which got off to a great start in district play, has dropped four out of its last six, including two straight with a chance to clinch a playoff spot. The Eagles fell 5-4 to Centennial Friday.
Decatur coach Chris Carter said his team is still in good spirits and playing with confidence after the recent tight losses. Decatur’s four district losses are by a combined seven runs.
“No one likes to go into a playoff situation on the down side, but we seem confident and ready,” Carter said. “These guys stay loose. They don’t seem to let things affect them either way. During the season, we’d win four in a row and then lose two or three. They always did a good job of coming back.”
Decatur is also used to this situation. The Eagles needed a win over Castleberry last year in a tiebreaker game to earn a playoff spot.
“It is the same thing as last year when we needed a playoff to get into the playoffs,” Roberts said. “We hope we can come through in a pressure situation again.”
Adams is expected to get the start for Decatur. He took the loss against Centennial while pitching with a rib injury. He allowed five runs on seven hits, struck out three and walked four.
“He was in intense pain, but threw the ball well,” Carter said. “He should be ready to go Friday.”
Adams is 4-3 with a 2.33 ERA in 60 innings.
Leps would not say who he plans to start. Martinez and Read are available.
“Both kids pitched well against Decatur this year,” Leps said. “They will be ready to go.”
Martinez said it will be tough to see the Eagles again, but he is ready if he gets the ball.
“They are good hitters,” he said. “You have to make sure you hit your location and not miss. They will make you pay for it.”