(Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, May 02, 2013 11:56 AM
SULPHUR — This time, Iowa was playing in Sulphur out of necessity. With one more win, they will make a voluntary return for the state baseball tournament.
The Yellow Jackets, the state runner-up last year, beat Erath 8-1 in a Class 3A regional-round game, played Wednesday at Sulphur’s McMurry Park due to rain. No. 4 Iowa will face the No. 5 Parkview Baptist-No. 12 St. Charles winner in the quarterfinals.
Iowa (21-10) scored in each of the first four innings, including four runs in the first inning. Justin Demary made the lead hold up, throwing a complete game and holding the Bobcats to six hits. He added two hits at the plate, including a triple.
Gabe Roberts led the Yellow Jackets offense, going 3-for-3 with an RBI double, walk and two runs scored. He doubled to the right-field fence to score courtesy runner Alex Guidry with the game’s first run. Iowa added three runs in the inning, twice scoring on wild pitches and again when Austin Theriot took off for home on a throw to first after a dropped third strike.
Iowa head coach Sean Richard said his team was doing all the little things to win.
“(Scoring early) allowed Justin to relax and pitch and we played unselfish, team-oriented baseball,” Richard said. “We had a hit-and-run and they throw a ball high over Theriot’s head and he hits a fly ball to left to protect his teammate.
“We hit behind runners. After Theriot hit a triple, Brad Whittington gave himself up to hit a ground ball to second to score that fifth run. We are playing better. Justin came out there and put us on his back and carried us through.”
Demary struck out seven. Erath had at least one base runner every inning, but could not string anything together.
“(Demary) is a bulldog, he will battle you,” Richard said. “That has always been his style. He told me he didn’t have his best stuff but he would give me what he had.”
Erath (21-10) scored its lone run in the sixth on a Coy Clostio double and RBI single by Jimmy Jordan.
“Four in the first is tough to overcome,” said Bobcats head coach David Jordan. “We thought all the ingredients were in place for us to play a better game. Demary did not give us a shot to get back in it. We had opportunities, but we changed our approach at the plate, which we did not need to do. Demary made some great pitches.”
SULPHUR — The bad memories of last year’s first-round playoff exit were enough to assure history would not repeat itself for Sam Houston.
The No. 6 Broncos won their first-ever postseason baseball game in Class 5A, downing No. 27 Slidell 2-0 behind a complete-game shutout by Collin Kober.
Sam Houston (24-9) went into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed last season but suffered an upset loss in the playoff opener that kept stinging until Wednesday evening.
“We felt like we had so much weight on our shoulders from last year because we lost in the first round,” Kober said. “Everyone was saying that they were hoping we wouldn’t choke. I think this year we played like we (knew we) could lose. Last year we played like we were untouchable.”
Kober (6-3) played his part well, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out five. The Tigers (17-14) only hit three balls into the outfield, mostly popping and grounding out.
“He’s a guy who has had to pitch against the toughest teams on our schedule, and he’s done very well for us,” said Broncos coach Brad Book. “He keeps the ball down and gets a lot of ground balls for us.”
Primarily used an infielder before this season, Kober flashed the leather himself with three assists, including a game-ending 1-6-3 double play.
“We have so much faith in each other,” Kober said of the Broncos infield. “We’ve been trusting each other since we were playing T-ball together.”
Slidell southpaw Will Boler kept the Sam Houston offense off-balance in his four-plus innings, but one good frame was all the Broncos needed.
Sam Houston scored both of its runs in the second, with Kameron Estay coming home from third when Tanner Helms grounded into a double play and Dayton Dugas scoring on a Cliff Reid single.