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Baseball: Dragons lose late lead – Chico drops bi-district series to Archer City

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, May 9, 2018
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Falling Just Short

FALLING JUST SHORT – Chico senior Jerod Blanks reacts after being doubled off first base to end the game. The Dragons lost to Archer City 5-4, ending their season. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

The Chico Dragons never stopped believing Saturday against Archer City.

After falling behind 3-0 in the second inning, Chico fought all the way back to take the lead in the fifth. The Dragons mounted a two-out rally that Kooper Martin capped with a ringing RBI-single to give Chico a 4-3 lead.

But the Dragons could not hold on to it. The Wildcats mounted a rally of their own in the sixth, scoring the winning run on a sacrifice fly to escape with a 5-4 win in Game 3 of the 2A Region II bi-district round series at Bowie.

Archer City won the series 2-1.

Big Start

BIG START – Chico’s Kenyon Hedrick pitches in a playoff game against Archer City. Hedrick gave up three runs in the 5-4 loss. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

“These kids have never stopped fighting, even with all the adversity they have faced and things out of their control,” said Chico coach Brian McBeth. “It’s that belief – Dragon magic and Dragon pride.”

Sophomore southpaw Kenyon Hedrick made his first start of the year for Chico in the decisive Game 3.

After giving up three runs in the first two innings, Hedrick settled down and did not allow another run. He scattered three runs on eight hits, striking out one and walking four.

“I was ecstatic the way he performed,” McBeth said. “He kept us in the ballgame. That’s all I could ask from him.”

The Dragons got on the board in the top of the third during a two-out rally.

Bailey Umphress battled back from an 0-2 count and drilled a pitch into the left field gap to score a run. Rustyn Fuller followed up Umphress’ RBI with one of his own, sending a 1-2 pitch back up the middle to plate senior Jerod Blanks.

Chico held Archer City in check until the sixth when Willie Payne hit the lead-off batter and ran into trouble. The Wildcats lofted a deep fly ball to right that Hedrick got turned around on and missed, leading to a run. With a runner at third and one out, Conner Byrd brought home the deciding run on a sacrifice fly into left.

The Dragons tried to make one final rally in the seventh, as Blanks reached base with a one-out single. Umphress then hit a soft line drive to Archer City’s second baseman, who dove and doubled Blanks off first to end the game.

Chico finished its season 16-11 overall. The Dragons took fourth place in District 11-2A.

“Even though it didn’t go the way we [wanted] it to – and Coach [McBeth] has said it – this has probably been the most fun year he’s had, just because of the stuff we have been through and the stuff we have overcome,” Blanks said. “It’s been really fun. I’ve enjoyed it.”

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