Steers pound Brownwood in playoff series sweep

AZLE— The Graham High School baseball team made quick work of Brownwood, sweeping the Lions (7-3, 10-3) to advance to the area round of the UIL state playoffs.
The Steers will next face the eighth-ranked Godley Wildcats, looking to maintain the momentum generated their sweep of Brownwood.
Smart hitting makes a difference Saturday
Before Friday’s playoff opener, Graham coach Jim Bob Williams attributed his team’s offensive shortfalls to not making the most of every opportunity at bat by driving in runs with one and two hits instead of three or four.
A more patient approach at the plate seems to have solved Graham’s batting woes, considering the Steers picked up 10 runs on 11 hits and drew eight walks during Saturday’s bi-district series finale.
“They had pretty good pitching, but we relaxed at the plate and started getting guys on and getting runs,” said Graham senior Kody Perry, whose second-inning, two-RBI single gave Graham a 3-0 lead. “We have had a lot of at-bats throughout the season. We just take a deep breath, relax and concentrate on what we can control … We can’t take anything away from their pitchers. We knew they were good coming into the series. We just had to control what we can control and play baseball.”
A fielder’s choice grounder by Evan Shraub later scored Perry to take Graham’s lead to 4-0. In the third, Graham’s patient hitting paid off again after Brownwood walked the bases loaded. Another walk took the Steers’ lead to 5-1, then a single by senior Jaxon Brockway plated senior Ian Villa and junior Adam Groves to push the lead to 7-1. Graham junior pitcher Tucker Horn contributed to his own cause with an RBI single, scoring senior Chance Horsey, then Villa picked up an RBI on a sacrifice fly to take the score to 9-1.
Following Hornsey’s RBI grounder in the fifth, Williams pulled Horn for senior closer Jacob Jones. Although throwing six strikeouts over as many innings, Horn said it was the Steers’ strong defense and not his strong pitching that made the difference Saturday.
“I pitch for contact every time I go out there, so I give props to the defense,” Horn said. “It’s them, it’s not me at all. It’s the guy behind the plate making stops and the guys behind me making plays in the field.”

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