Denton had plenty to feel optimistic about going into Thursday’s home game against Tomball.
The Broncos were returning six starters and had just beaten Saginaw in their opening game of the Russell Athletic North Texas Classic earlier in the day. It also helped that when the Broncos hosted Tomball in last year’s tournament, they allowed just one run in a tight loss.
The rematch wasn’t nearly as close, though, as the Cougars — the defending Class 4A state champs — pulled away early for a 9-0 win at Bronco Field.
“We played Saginaw, a team that’s comparable to us in a lot of ways, then we turn around and face the state champs,” Denton coach Glen Harrison said. “They [Tomball] graduated 18 seniors, so you start to think that maybe they’ll fall down a notch. That certainly wasn’t the case. They picked up where they left off.”
Tomball (2-0) was practically untouchable behind ace Braeden Holub. The Houston signee allowed three hits through 4 1/3 innings with five strikeouts. Holub finished the night having thrown 66 pitches, 43 for strikes.
Conversely, Denton’s Roman Arnold allowed nine hits, hit four batters and was chased from the game after throwing 71 pitches through 2 2/3 innings of work. The Cougars scored nine runs off Arnold, including six in the top of the first inning as he hit three batters and the defense committed two errors.
Tomball batted around in that inning and, with a 3-0 lead and the bases loaded, broke the game open when Robby Vatuna’s deep shot to center field went off the glove of Dawson Wright to plate three more runs.
Casey Smith went 2-for-4 at the plate for the Cougars with two doubles and three RBIs.
“We told the guys that it doesn’t matter who you play, you’ve got to come ready to play every night,” Harrison said. “We were missing our spots early [on the mound] and we just weren’t that sharp. When you hit four batters, you put yourself in a hole you can’t get out of.”
Denton (1-1) was 8-17 last year but picked up an 8-4 win over Saginaw Thursday to open the 20-team tournament. Tomball won twice despite playing both of its tournament games back-to-back. The Cougars blew an eight-run lead against Greenville but won 12-9 when Joe Breaux hit a walk-off, three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.