Billies bow out in regional baseball playoffs
The Battlin’ Billies fell one win short of their state tournament goal.
Fredericksburg High School baseball lost to the Sweeny Bulldogs, 2-1, in a best-of-3 Region IV-4A finals series on Wednesday and Thursday to end their season.
FHS took Game 1, 1-0, on Wednesday in San Antonio, but lost Game 2, 12-3, and Game 3, 2-1, in Victoria, to fall out of the playoffs and send the Bulldogs to the UIL Class 4A Baseball State Tournament this week in Austin.
“What a great year,” coach Derrick Dietrich said. “Obviously we were disappointed when it came to an end, but these kids have nothing to be ashamed of. They left everything they had out on that field. It just wasn’t meant to be.
“I feel like these seniors and some others in the past set the tone for our program. The bar has not been set high. The players coming back and those that will move up from the JV have a lot of work to do.”
The team ended the season at 29-9, 11-1 in District 28-4A. The Billies won the district championship and went to the regional finals for the first time since 1991.
Sweeny 2, FHS 1
The Billies were the first one the board once again.
They just didn’t hold on to win.
FHS and Sweeny battled through two scoreless innings before senior TJ Tomlinson, who took the mound in Game 3 instead of his regular post at shortstop, drove in junior Willie Sebera with an RBI triple to take a 1-0 lead during the top of the third inning.
The lead held until Sweeny’s Quinton Martin hit a two-run single during the fourth inning to give his team a 2-1 lead.
The Bulldogs stayed on top through the next three innings, with the Billies’ best scoring chance coming during the sixth inning. Sebera hit a one-out double to move into scoring position and advanced to third on a ground ball, but FHS failed to bring him home.
Tomlinson threw a gem to keep the Billies in the game, striking out seven batters in six innings. The Odessa College-bound senior allowed three walks, three hits and two earned runs while picking up the loss.
“Can’t say enough about TJ,” Dietrich said. “He had that bulldog mentality that every coach wants all of his players to have in crunch time. Jack (Metzger) played a great game at shortstop. He made some tough plays and helped give us a chance. It was fun to witness.”
Sweeny pitcher Jackson Kiddy earned the win for Sweeny.
Sweeny 2, FHS 1
FHS 001 000 0 — 1 0 0
Sweeny 000 200 x — 2 0 0
Sweeny 12, FHS 3
The Billies started the game with hot bats and scored twice during the top of the first.
Sweeny’s response to the early run put FHS in too deep of a hole to escape.
The Billies led off Game 2 by scoring twice during the top of the first inning.
FHS senior designated hitter Riggs Threadgill and junior third baseman Don Flannery drove in Tomlinson and junior center fielder Hobbs Price, respectively, to grab the lead.
Sweeny followed that with a six-run rally during the bottom of the first, highlighted by Blake Benavides’ grand slam.
The Bulldogs scored twice in the second inning to extend their lead to six.
Senior Jack Metzger tripled to lead off the third and scored on a Price groundout the next at-bat to cut the lead to five runs.
Metzger’s run was FHS’ final score of the game, with four more Sweeny runs all but eliminating a chance for a Billies comeback.
Seniors Ryan Segner, Kenneth Klier and Connor Kennedy pitched for FHS. Klier led all Billies pitchers with three strikeouts.
Sweeny pitcher Ty Ringo picked up the win.
Sweeny 12, FHS 3
Game 2, June 1 at Victoria
FHS 201 000 0 — 3 4 2
Sweeny 624 000 x — 12 14 1
Batting: Tomlinson, 1-4, R; Metzger, R, BB; Price, 1-3, R, RBI, 2B; Riggs Threadgill, 1-3, RBI; D. Flannery, RBI; Daylon Nebgen, 1-3.
Pitching: Ryan Segner (L), 0.1 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 2 BB; Kenneth Klier, 2.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K; Connor Kennedy, 3.1 IP, 3 H.
FHS 1, Sweeny 0
It took seven innings for either team to score, but when it was all said and done, FHS stood on top after Game 1.
Senior first baseman Will Flannery hit a shallow pop-up that Sweeny’s defense misplayed and allowed to fall into the outfield, scoring Price, to give the Billies the 1-0 win.
FHS went hitless for five innings until senior shortstop TJ Tomlinson hit a single during the sixth. The Billies didn’t bring him home but led off the bottom of the seventh with hits by junior Hobbs Price and senior Riggs Threadgill.
FHS’ next batter, Don Flannery, bunted down the third base line to advance both runners in scoring position and safely reach first to load the bases.
Will Flannery came up to the plate next and popped up to left field, but Sweeny’s defense misplayed the hit, allowing Price to run down the third-base line to reach home and earn FHS the series lead heading into Thursday’s game.
Threadgill shut out the Bulldogs in seven innings pitched, coming up with defensive stops with runners in scoring position during the fifth and sixth innings, to earn the win.
The LSU-bound senior struck out four batters, gave up three hits and walked one.
Sweeny pitcher Caden Homniok, a Texas A&M commit, struck out nine Billies batters in seven innings and allowed three hits, a walk and one run to pick up the loss.
FHS 1, Sweeny 0
Game 1, May 30 in San Antonio
Sweeny 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
FHS 000 000 1 — 1 3 1
Batting: Tomlinson, 1-2, BB; Hobbs Price, 1-3, R; D. Flannery, 1-3; Will Flannery, RBI.
Pitching: Threadgill (W), 7 IP, 3 H, BB, 4 K.
Threadgill also earned a spot in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association’s All-Star Game for Class 2A-4A teams on Saturday, June 16, at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.
The senior, selected to represent FHS as a pitcher, will take the field with a pair of top draft picks in the Major League Baseball draft: pitcher Grayson Rodriguez of Nacogdoches Central Heights (drafted 11th by the Baltimore Orioles) and pitcher Braxton Ashcraft of Robinson (drafted 51st by the Pittsburgh Pirates).
FHS head baseball coach Derrick Dietrich is also set for an all-star appearance as a member of the South All-Stars’ coaching staff.
The Billies lose an accomplished group of seniors.
Starting pitchers Threadgill and Baylor-bound Segner graduate, along with relief pitcher Klier, who’s signed to Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
FHS loses five of its nine regulars from the batting lineup: Tomlinson, Metzger, Threadgill, Will Flannery and catcher Daylon Nebgen.
Also graduating are pitcher Connor Kennedy, second baseman/pinch runner Mason Wagner, second baseman Chris Calzada, third baseman DJ Herbort and catcher Tyler Maurer.
The seniors have played in each of the last four postseasons and past the first round all four times.
“These seniors deserve a lot of credit for our success, obviously,” Dietrich said. “It was a group of 12 that became very close as we moved on. They set the bar. It was fun watching them lead and have the success they had. They will be greatly missed.”
Returning starters are Price, Don Flannery, leftfielder Dax Dietrich and right fielder Willie Sebera.
Brant Bowers and Joshua Handley are other returning varsity players.