At first, Josh Reeves thought he had yanked the pitch foul. But maybe, the Krum catcher told himself, the line drive would stay fair and bang off the left-field wall.
It stayed fair, all right. And cleared the fence with only inches to spare.
The fourth-inning bullet went for a three-run home run and made his Bobcats a winner Friday night against Princeton in the opener of a best-of-three Class 3A Region II quarterfinal series at Bronco Field.
With big lefty Ty Damron striking out 15 Panther batters while allowing only one hit, the Bobcats nailed down the 4-0 victory. They will go for the clincher today at 1 p.m. If the series requires a third game, it will be played later this afternoon.
“It just barely got out,” said Krum coach Ray Miller, who had a sweet vantage point for Reeves’ rope from the third-base coaching box. “It was only about a foot over. And it was some timely hitting.”
It was the first home run this season for Reeves, Krum’s strong-armed catcher who will pitch today after authoring a four-hitter in last week’s closeout game against Ferris. But it wasn’t Reeves’ first home run.
“It was definitely the fastest I’ve ever had a home run get out of the park,” he said.
The big blow came after Krum’s Brennan Ellis and Justin Graham led off the fourth by working full-count walks off Princeton starter David Gieke.
“I was looking for a fastball,” Reeves said. “He gave me one to hit, a fastball up.”
Krum improved to 25-5 on the season while the Panthers dropped to 26-10.
Damron now has struck out 32 hitters and given up one hit in 13 playoff innings at Bronco Field this month. In his three postseason outings, the Texas Tech signee has 40 strikeouts and five hits and one run allowed in 20 innings pitched.
Miller said Damron made it look so easy Friday, “people probably don’t realize how well he threw, because this [Princeton] is a good-hitting ballclub and he shut them down.”
The pitcher mixed his fastball with a big-breaking curve and worked the ball to all corners of the strike zone from the start.
“I jumped out early on the zone,” said the southpaw who also led Krum’s six-hit attack with a double and single in three trips to the plate.
Princeton’s Trevor Williams ruined Damron’s bid for a no-hitter when he shot a grounder back up the middle with one away in the sixth.
“I just floated one right near the middle,” the pitcher lamented.
Krum increased its lead to 4-0 on an unearned run in the sixth. Colten Lucas was hit by reliever Riley Lowrance’s pitch, then advanced to third on two throwing errors on the same play and scored on Jack Patton’s RBI single.
The Panthers threatened in the seventh, loading the bases on a booted grounder and back-to-back walks off a tiring Damron. But the pitcher got out of the jam with his 14th and 15th strikeouts of the night.
Krum 4, Princeton 0
Krum 000 301 0 — 4 6 2
Princeton 000 000 0 — 0 1 3
WP — Ty Damron. LP — David Gieke. 2B — K: Damron, Krum. HR — K: Josh Reeves.