Denton head coach Glen Harrison knew his team’s pitching inexperience was going to be a factor in this season of transition.
The young Broncos couldn’t locate the strike zone quickly enough to keep the Burleson Centennial Spartans from grabbing a lofty 9-0 lead in the opening three innings on their way to a 12-2 victory Monday at Denton High School in both teams’ season opener.
Centennial used a two-run first inning and a seven-run third inning to put the Broncos’ backs against the wall early with Josh Chavez taking the Spartans’ first offensive blow, while getting himself into trouble with three hit batters and one walk.
Chavez, who earned the loss in two innings pitched, allowed Centennial’s Anthony Lyder to reach on an infield hit and later score on a wild pitch for the game’s first run. Nate Menchaca then scored on a tricky hop that got past second baseman Bowie Farris and into the right field.
Denton got out of the inning on a superb defensive play as first baseman Trevor Claytor took a groundball and fired to catcher Dylan Tekell to throw out Drew Grimes at the plate.
“We’re a young team,” Harrison said. “I think we started three seniors tonight. It’s an early ballgame and I didn’t think we came out very focused. Our youth showed tonight. Josh usually throws strikes. He didn’t have a good evening and it just snowballed from there.”
Bryce Bennett (1-0) kept the Broncos’ offense at bay and off balance with four strikeouts on the way to retiring the first six batters he faced.
Centennial backed the Broncos into a corner in the top of the third with a seven-run rally that mimicked the first inning in that Lyder reached on a single and Menchaca was hit by a pitch for the second straight at-bat. After Chavez walked Bennett to load the bases, Malek Minter came on in relief but couldn’t dig the Broncos out of the hole as Grimes delivered a solid single up the middle to drive home Lyder.
Menchaca then scored on a passed ball to put the Spartans up 4-0 before Parker Southerland delivered a two-run single to left-center field to give Centennial the 6-0 lead. The Spartans kept rolling with RBI singles by Coleman Reed and Bailey Hayes and a groundout RBI by the leadoff man Lyder to take a 9-0 lead.
“You can’t play a team like that and let those guys get ahead and get seven runs on you in the inning where you are playing behind the rest of the night,” Harrison said.”
Once the Broncos took the Spartans’ best blow to trail 9-0 after three, Harrison appealed to his team to see if their heads were in the game.
“Basically, after the first couple of innings, I said, ‘OK, do we have that out of our system now,’” Harrison said. “Their pitchers did a good job of getting ahead. We have to do a good job of knowing the game. We can’t walk people, and we can’t hit people. We have to take care of those things if we want to have success and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Denton began to show some fight and a little more confidence in the later half of the game by being more patient at the plate after reaching for several pitches out of the strike zone in the first half.
“We need to know our zone better,” Harrison said. “I thought we swung at too many pitches that were up in our zone, and again, that’s not having a whole lot of confidence in yourself because when you do know your zone, then you’re a little more selective. With the pitching that they have, you know that they are going to throw strikes. You just have to be patient and let them do it. I think our nerves/inexperience showed tonight.”
After failing to reach in their first run through the lineup, the Broncos were finally able to end their scoring drought in the bottom of the fourth inning. With two outs, Mark Johnson ended Bennett’s no-hit bid with a single to center field. Tekell then doubled over left fielder Turner Jenkins to make it 9-1. Unfortunately, that would be the only offense for Denton as Tekell was picked off to end the inning.
Denton applied pressure to Centennial (1-0) in the bottom of the fifth inning with patient at-bats that eventually led to a Dakota Soward bases-loaded single through the left infield to bring the score to 9-2.
“After we settled down, I thought that when we played relaxed, we made routine plays,” Harrison said. “When our pitchers got ahead, good things happened. If there is a positive, when we finally did settle down, we played pretty good ball.”
With the bases still loaded, Brady Allen, who came on in relief of Bennett in the fourth inning, struck out the side to end the Denton threat.
Burleson Centennial added another run in sixth inning off a Denton throwing error and two more runs capped by Bailey Hayes’s RBI single made it 12-2 in the seventh.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
BURLESON CENTENNIAL 12, DENTON 2
WP — Bryce Bennett. LP — Josh Chavez. 2B — D: Dylan Tekell.