Keller, Rockwall return to regional finals in 6A

DENTON — Basement pitcher Ty Zahradnik had a bit of irony when he made the crucial clutch moment of his team’s elimination playoff game against Flower Mound Marcus on Saturday. He looked for a spot on the plate that he usually avoided on the hill.

The pitch was a fastball, Zahradnik taking it down the middle for a two-run, two-out single with a 3-2 count to put Keller 3-2 up in the fifth inning. The Indians would add a run in the seventh to earn a 4-2 win over Marcus in the third and deciding game of a Class 6A Region I semifinal series at The Ballpark at Guyer.

Going with his big hit was a solid outing to pick up the win. Zahradnik (5-1) allowed just two hits and two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings, hitting nine with four walks. Nick Robb made the last four outs for Keller for his fifth save this season and his third save in Keller’s last five games.

“I was just trying to get the ball in play. When I scored, I thought, “Finally,” because I was swinging and swinging and fouling the pitches. I have a fastball,” Zahradnik said. “We’ve been through a lot this year where things haven’t gone the way we’d like, but we have that one moment that gives us a win.

“When pitching, my off-speed pitches worked, my curveballs and sliders. I threw these more for strikes than with fastballs.

Keller (26-7), ranked 4th in The Dallas Morning News‘ Class 6A area survey, advances to a final Region I showdown against Southlake Carroll, a rematch of the 2021 matchup that Keller won in a three-game, two-to-one series. Third-ranked Marcus (30-8-2) was denied his fourth Regional Finals appearance since 2009.

Early in the fifth game, Zach Makawich reduced Keller’s deficit to 2-1 by coming home on a wild field. Keller got an insurance run with two outs in the sixth, with Brayden Simmons scoring on a wild pitch.

Jake Duer gave Marcus a 1-0 lead in the first game by doubling down on the first court of the game to the right, stealing third and coming home on a wild court. Nick Mazzola extended the lead in the second with an RBI single to the left.

Jackson Hill had three hits for Keller, including one each in the sixth and seventh innings to lengthen each frame. He hit an infield single in the seventh.

Nathan Harmon (3-2) took the loss, allowing three earned runs, six hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings while striking out six. Harmon had a leadoff single to the right to open the seventh inning.

Rick Kretzschmar

Frisco Wakeland wins series against Lufkin 2-1: Frisco Wakeland scored two runs in the top of the fourth inning to win the second game of a 5A Region II semifinal series 2-1 over Lufkin on Saturday and then won 6-4 in the third game to end the series.

Marson Priebe went 3 for 3 for Wakeland (22-12) in game two, which will play Forney in the regional finals. Carson Priebe threw five innings of one-run ball for Wakeland and knocked out three batters while Connor Cossano and Tyler Bible hit the team’s two runs.

Wakeland’s bats found a bit more pop in the third game of the series as five different players had multiple hits. Jackson Dillingham went 1 for 3 and drove in two of Wakeland’s runs while Cassano, Addison Brown, Owen Cassano, Jack Bryan and Mason Priebe all recorded two hits each.

Mansfield Legacy wins series against Lubbock Cooper, 2-1: After losing the second game of a 5A Region I semifinal series on Saturday, Mansfield Legacy rebounded just hours later with an 11-2 win over Lubbock Cooper. Legacy won game one on Friday 9-1 but lost game two 4-0.

Legacy (30-8) plays Aledo in the regional championship.

Rockwall wins series against The Woodlands, 2-1: Rockwall returns to the 6A Region II Finals for the second straight year as they defeated The Woodlands 8-2 in game three.

And just like last year, Rockwall will face off against Crosstown rivals Rockwall-Heath for a chance to compete in the state tournament. Heath defeated Rockwall in three games last year before they won the state title.

Jake Overstreet went 3 for 4 with a run scored and another drive-in for Rockwall (26-11-1), who tied with The Woodlands 2-2 after one inning. Rockwall scored one run in the fourth and fifth innings and four more in the top of the seventh to thwart the game.

Andrew Telia pitched the last three innings for Rockwall, conceding just two hits and no runs. Tyler Rollins went 2 for 4 and drove in three runs.

Keller's Ty Zahradnik (27), left, is congratulated by teammates after scoring a lone goal.

1/14Keller’s Ty Zahradnik (27), left, is congratulated by teammates after he scored two runs against Flower Mound Marcus in the fifth inning of their Class 6A Region I baseball final on Saturday, May 28, 2022.(Michael Ainsworth / Featured Contributor)

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2022 UIL baseball regional semifinals results for Dallas area teams

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