ANALYSIS: Keys for a Wall Win in State Semifinals
WALL, TX -- The no. 1-ranked Wall Hawks are in the proverbial catbird seat of the UIL Class 3A state baseball tournament.
Wall has the best record (37-1) and the best offense (11.5 runs per game) in the field of four teams.
However, their semifinal matchup with state tournament newcomer Kirbyville (33-7-1) brings a few challenges for the state championship hopefuls.
Below, we will analyze the top three keys we think it will take for the Hawks to win their semifinal and get back to the state championship game.
Above all, pitching
Both teams bring the top pitching staffs of the tournament.
Kirbyville’s senior southpaw James Burchett has been their ace all this year and last. During Kirbyville’s regional final run in 2018, the McNeese State University baseball signee posted an ERA of 0.56 and 93 strikeouts. This year, he has posted a record of 14-1 to help them to the program’s first-ever state tournament. He’s also been the big bat in the Wildcats’ lineup with an average of .500.
Supplementing Burchett is Cedar Valley Junior College signee Justin Herriage. The senior has a record of 11-2. He’s also been stellar at the plate with an average of .406.
But Wall has gotten back to Round Rock on the arms of a legitimate five-man pitching staff.
Leading the charge is junior Caleb Heuertz, who was on the mound in the 2017 championship game.
Heuertz is 12-0 in his 12 starts with a 0.99 ERA and 97 strikeouts. Complimenting him have been Luke Young (10-1), Jake Jansa (7-0) and Sutton Hurst (5-0). Young’s lone loss came in game two of their regional final series against Brock.
The Hawks also welcomed senior Ryan Gully back to the mound in the postseason last week in game three of their regional final. Gully looked to be the same as his 15-strikeout performance in the 2017 state semifinal.
While probable starters have not been announced by either team, it’s likely to be Heuertz vs Burchett in game one. The reason for that assumption is both teams want to make sure to put their best out in a do-or-die game like the semifinal.
Big, Hot Bats
Wall’s 20-1 win over Brock to clinch a second-ever state tournament berth was a statement. They’re hungry and want to make the most of their second appearance.
That shows with 12 Hawks hitting an average of .300 or more. Heading up that dominant batting order are Heuertz (.480) and Jansa (.482).
On the other side, Kirbyville has seven batters hitting over .300. Burchett is one of two batters hitting .500 for the Wildcats.
The two teams are also used to dominance. Wall has won by 10 or more runs 21 times and Kirbyville has done that 20 times.
However, Dell Diamond is a big ballpark. The dimensions are 330-feet to left field, 325 to right, 407 to dead center and 375 in each gap.
That means both teams may have to rely on small ball more, rather than their explosive offense.
Wall returns nine players from their 2017 state tournament team and it could be their biggest advantage of anyone in the field.
The only other team with another state tournament appearance in this decade is Van Alstyne (2016). Just their senior class was on that team as freshmen.
Blanco’s last appearance was in 2007.
“It’s an experience we all learned from,” Schniers said. “(Sunday), I’m filling out the team packet and getting all of our team information sent in. It’s something I’ve done before, it wasn’t brand new to us. I think the kids will be the same way. Nine-o-clock start? That’s early, but our kids will know where to go. We’ve done it before. I think that’s gonna be an advantage.”
- Wall Hawks (37-1) vs Kirbyville Wildcats (33-7-1), Class 3A semifinal: Friday, June 7, 9:00 a.m., Dell Diamond in Round Rock.
- Live updates: San Angelo LIVE! will provide inning-by-inning updates in real time
- Audio: West 11 Sports Media will have a live broadcast on its site with Cody West on the call. The game will also be simulcast on 1260 AM KKSA.
- Video: The NFHS Network has a live stream of all UIL State Baseball Games. The fee is $9.95.
Recommended for You
Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily newsletter, The LIVE! Daily.