By Justin Rains
Behind stellar pitching in the teams' first meeting, Kerens made sure the District 19-A title race with Cayuga would stay relevant until the very end of the regular season.
Behind its own ace on Thursday, Cayuga reaffirmed that 19-A is still the Wildcats district.
Senior Chantz Holland struck out 11 batters, and Cayuga chased Kerens ace Brett Anderson after three-plus sub-par innings as the Wildcats claimed the district crown in statement-making fashion, 11-1.
Cayuga blew things open in the fourth, when they chased Anderson. The Wildcats sent 11 batters to the plate in the frame, and plated nine runs to take what had been a comfortable 4-1 lead, and turn it into a dominant 9-1 one.
The Wildcats did all that, despite registering only one hit in the entire inning.
Cota Wilburn led off with a walk, before Anderson got Brayden Walthall to fly out to center field.
Payton Wallace then ground out to second, scoring Wilburn after he had stolen second and moved to third on a bad throw from Kerens catcher Dylan Woods.
Then, things really fell apart for the Bobcats.
Anderson hit Hunter Johnson in the next at-bat, and the senior then scored second on the first pitch of Holland’s ensuing at-bat.
Holland then reached on an error, one that allowed Johnson to score from second and make it 6-1 Cayuga. That was the last batter Anderson faced in the game.
Kerens brought in Michael Kline, who walked Jaret Walthall, hit John Vickery then walked Hunter Jenkins, which allowed Pat Boxie — running for Holland —to score.
That was it for Kline, who was replaced by Jovani Coronado, who gave up a rocket single to Chandler Rigdon on the first pitch, which scored Walthall and Vickery, and made it 9-1 Cayuga.
The Wildcats ended things early in the fifth, when Wallace singled and both Johnson and Holland walked, bringing up Jaret Walthall.
Walthall smashed the first pitch he saw to deep left, over the head of left fielder Kevin Townsell, scoring two runs to end the game.
While Holland surely appreciated the 10-run cushion, he certainly didn’t need it.
The Vernon College-bound senior was dominant for most of the night, save for a shaky first inning when he walked two before escaping trouble.
He struck out 11 in an efficient performance that saw him throw less than 90 pitches.
Kerens lone run came in the third, when Holland actually struck out the side but surrendered the only two hits he gave up in the game.
D.J. Camp reached with a one-out single, and then moved from first-to-third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run by Anderson, who hit the ball away from an opposite field shift Cayuga had put on him.
Holland was then called for a balk, bringing Camp home and moving Anderson to second, but Holland then struck out Woods to end the threat.
The win gives Cayuga the district title and subsequent first round bye, while the loss sets up a bi-district playoff matchup against Overton for the Bobcats.