Friday, May 23, 1997

Bulldogs advance to regional semifinal round

By MARK WILSON / Abilene Reporter-News

STEPHENVILLE - The batters Grant Gregg doesn't strike out continue to be snuffed out by the Wylie defense.

Gregg struck out a season-high 14 batters and the Bulldogs were flawless in the field as they posted a 4-1 Class 3A area baseball playoff victory over West Thursday night at Tarleton State University's Cecil Ballow Field.

District 6-3A champion Wylie (23-6) advances to the regional semifinal round next week against the winner of tonight's game between Monahans and Perryton.

The Trojans, champions of District 8-3A, were held to four hits by Gregg. Thefour hits, all singles, were the only balls hit out of the infield by West, which closed its season at 19-8.

Gregg (11-2) had three strikeouts in the second, sixth and seventh innings, including five of the last six batters. He walked three and hit three, and the one run was earned.

Wylie was on top since the first inning, and Gregg simply cruised and let thedefense do its job .

"We got a lead early, and I threw a lot of strikes," Gregg said. "It's really not hard to throw strikes with a lead because we have a good defense.

"I didn't feel like I was throwing that hard, but I could move it around a lot. I let my defense do the rest. They made some great plays."

Wylie head coach Clay Martin said, "He threw the ball well, and probably more than anything else, he competed real well. Any time they got anything going, he stepped it up and got us out of the inning."

Wylie got seven hits off of Craig Hromadka (9-3), who also went the distance.Hromadka struck out six and walked none, and two of the runs were earned.

"We were disciplined at the plate," Martin said. "In crucial sitautions, we were able to get a hit.

"Tonight, it wasn't a one-man deal. Five or six people made great plays defensively."

The Bulldogs scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning after Todd Barnett reached on an error by pitcher Greg Hromadka.

Gregg then smashed a single up the middle to put runners on first and second.. Scott Unger grounded to shortstop, and Patrick Barnes, the courtesy runner for Gregg, was forced out at second base for the second out.

Mark Powell then beat out an infield hit, but the late throw to first from shortstop R.J. Matus was high and the error allowed Unger to score and Powell totake second. Hrmadka then got a strikeout to end the inning.

West committed two more errors in the second inning, but both runners were left on base.

West head coach Ed Trochim, who had seven seniors making their third straightplayoff appearance, didn't think his team would be nervous.

"I didn't think we were, but we ended up playing like it," he said.

The Bulldogs stretched their lead to 4-0 with two runs in the fourth. Greg McMinn reached when he was hit by a pitch, and with two outs Marc Deffenbaugh hit a ball deep into the hole for an infield single.

Todd Barnett then crushed a ball over the centerfielder's head to the fence for a two-run triple.

The Trojans cut it to 4-1 in the fifth when Brian Laubert scored on a single by Hrmadka. Laubert had led off with a single and moved to third as R.J. Matus singled and Tanner Holecek hit into a fielder's choice force-out.

Trochim said that Gregg is "right up there" among the best pitchers he has seen this season.

"He kept us off stride the whole time, spotting the ball," he said.

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