ABILENE, TX -- The no. 1 Wall Hawks squeaked by the no. 9 Breckenridge Buckaroos 5-4 to open their three-game series at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field on Friday.
“That’s exactly what we expected,” head coach Jason Schniers said. “They’re a team that’s gonna battle you to the very end. Wind was blowing in quite a bit today. It made hitting quite difficult, especially anything hit in the air. They hit the ball hard. Fortunately, we were able to score one more run than them.”
Senior second baseman Jake Jansa broke for third base in the top of the seventh inning with the game tied at 4-4. The throw from Breckenridge catcher Jake Escalon was low and skipped into left field, allowing Jansa to score the eventual winning run. It was the third run Wall had scored on an error in the game.
“Their catcher is really good at shutting down the run game. Jake got a good jump on a ball in the dirt and went for it and put a little pressure on them. That’s what we did in the early innings to get some runs,” Schniers said.
Breckenridge finished with four errors to their credit.
Wall dropped down a total of six bunts, three of which were scored as sacrifices. That forced two errors from Breckenridge.
Being able to force mistakes while playing that small ball from the Buckaroos was a big reason for Wall’s success on Friday.
“We changed our approaches a little bit today,” Schniers said. “We went with a little more small ball to get more runners in scoring position because I knew it was going to be a low scoring game compared to last week. We did what we needed to do to get a win.”
Junior Caleb Heuertz settled down on the mound after allowing four runs in the third and fourth innings to tie the game. In the final three frames, Heuertz shut out Breckenridge with one hit against five strikeouts.
“That’s what you want out of your guy in game one,” Schniers praised. “Game ones are, I think, the advantage in a series -- could be. He wasn’t striking them out early on. He was out of his style early on. … Then (Breckenridge) figured him out in the middle. Then in the fifth inning, he started to go to his change-up more and they couldn’t figure that out.”
Heuertz went the distance for Wall to pick up the win, allowing four runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts. Heuertz was also the only Hawk with a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Charlie Mascorro and Colton Diebitsch had the lone RBIs for the Hawks.
The win came less than 24 hours after the class of 2019 graduated. Schniers was happy with the level of focus in his squad.
“It’s always hard to work around graduation nights and things like that,” Schniers said. “They’re kids, 17- and 18-year-old kids. Distractions can occur. These guys have not allowed distractions to happen this season.”
Wall (34-0) will look to close out the series tomorrow with game two at 3:30 p.m. Should a game three be needed, it will take place 30 minutes following game two.