SANGER — Kyle Stephens’ fly ball to left field kept going deeper and deeper. Finally, it was gone with the wind.
The solo home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning capped a 3-for-3 performance by the Sanger shortstop. His team also benefited from some strong pitching as the Indians downed Aubrey 4-0 on Friday afternoon.
“I’ve come close before,” Stephens said, “but that was my first home run. I’m sure the wind didn’t hurt it.”
The nondistrict win lifted Sanger to a 12-5 record going into Tuesday’s final tuneup for District 9-3A play, a home game against Argyle. The Indians kick off district action on Friday night when they play host to Gainesville.
Lefty Goose Ritzel and right-handers Ted Wisdom and Wilding Smith combined to limit Aubrey to a pair of hits, strike out seven Chaparral hitters, hit two batters and allow two walks.
“I was going to throw at least three guys,” Sanger coach Steve Ford said. “It was a tuneup. I wanted them to get some work over spring break.”
The Chaps will open District 10-3A play at Frisco Lone Star.
Aubrey pitcher Noah Vaughn broke up the Sanger no-hit bid with a fifth-inning single but was stranded at second after two strikeouts by Wisdom.
Collin Scribner welcomed Smith to the mound with a leadoff single in the sixth. He couldn’t advance, though, as Smith retired the Chaps on two fly balls and a looping liner.
Vaughn, Aubrey’s right-hander, allowed hits to only three Sanger players, and only to Stephens until Cody Martin and Ted Wisdom got two hits apiece, bookending the fifth and sixth innings.
Stephens scored in the second on an overthrow, one of four Aubrey errors, but Sanger’s lead was just 1-0 after four innings.
“Our pitcher [Vaughn] has been consistent every start,” Aubrey coach Keith Peacock said. “He lives around the strike zone. We’ve just got to find ways to score and help him out.”
Sanger left seven runners on base, failing to score in the first, third and fourth frames despite having runners in scoring position with one out each time.
“We didn’t swing as good as we normally do,” Stephens said. “But that guy [Vaughn] was mixing it up pretty good, keeping us off balance.”
Aubrey had its chances to score before coming up short against the trio of Ritzel (three innings, no hits, three strikeouts), Wisdom (two innings, one hit, three strikeouts) and Smith (two innings, one hit, one strikeout).
In the third, fourth and fifth innings, the Chaps had a total of four runners in scoring position with fewer than two outs, and they stranded a total of eight base runners for the game.
“We had a bunch of opportunities,” Peacock said. “We’re just being too selfish at the plate. We’re not making adjustments.
“Until they make adjustments, they’re going to have trouble scoring runs.”
After going down 1-2-3 in each of the first two innings, Aubrey loaded the bases with one out in the third on an error and two walks. Ritzel got out of the jam, inducing a pair of popups.
Stephens’ second hit was a perfectly executed hit-and-run with one out in the fourth. Anthony Escobedo broke for second and, as Chaps shortstop Tanner Buxton raced to cover the bag, Stephens stroked Vaughn’s pitch through the area Buxton had vacated.
Escobedo was able to go from first to third on Stephens’ hit. He failed to score, though, when Aubrey catcher Justin Sorenson caught him wandering too far off third on Kody Adams’ chopper in front of the plate.
Martin led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to left. Wisdom’s single to center moved Martin to third, and Smith’s RBI groundout made it 2-0 for the Indians.
The round-tripper by Stephens upped the lead to 3-0 to open the Sanger sixth. With two outs, Martin missed a homer by inches, settling for a double, and Wisdom tripled him home with a drive just out of reach of a diving center fielder Cole Cannon.
When Wisdom rounded third, trying for an inside-the-park homer, he was an easy out at the plate after a good relay by the Chaps.
SANGER 4, AUBREY 0
WP — Goose Ritzel. LP — Noah Vaughn. HR — Sanger: Kyle Stephens. 3B — Sanger: Ted Wisdom. 2B — Sanger: Cody Martin.