MISSOURI CITY (Covering Fort Bend News) – Ridge Point took nothing for granted prior to Tuesday’s battle vs. Austin. The Panthers entered the game 17-2-1 and leading District 20-6A at 8-0, but the Bulldogs were 4-4 and locked in a tie with Elkins for the fourth and final playoff berth. They typically live up to their nickname, and can be dangerous.
In an ordinary week, Panthers’ Head Coach Clinton Welch would simply send ace pitcher Hayde Key (5-1) to the mound, where he’s been untouchable since March 2. In four starts and a gutsy, long relief outing April 2 at Dulles, Key has won five straight decisions without allowing a run.
But it wasn’t an ordinary week for Key and some other Ridge Point pitchers Welch might have wanted to start such a district game. Welch wouldn’t say how many or which ones, but some of his pitchers were feeling sick – too sick to start the game, or pitch at all.
Key is as valuable to Ridge Point hitting as he is pitching, so Welch made him the designated hitter against Austin so he could contribute and convalesce at the same time. Feeling puny, Key didn’t have his usual pop, going 0-for-3, but he did drive in a run.
So who did Welch turn to as his pitcher vs. Austin? Sophomore right-hander Kyle Roosa. Roosa’s varsity numbers were few: he had started only two varsity games, getting a win March 7 over Cy Springs. That day, he ate up five innings, allowing only three hits and two runs. Before that, he threw three shutout innings against the Katy Tigers February 23 in a 4-0 win.
Welch liked what he saw in those pre-district outings, and Roosa didn’t let his coach down against Austin. He stayed in the game until there were two outs in the top of the fifth, when senior Garrett Mitchell came out of the bullpen to finish it, as the Panthers led 5-1. The final was 6-1.
Roosa yielded only one hit and the single run in the fifth – an unearned run, because the Bulldogs scored as a result of two Panther errors. Roosa struck out seven Austin batters and walked five in a 93-pitch outing to get the win. He’s 2-0 in three starts with an ERA of 1.11.
Gabe Colaianni and Will Pendergrass were both 2-for-4 with an RBI for Ridge Point. Pendergrass doubled with one out in the first off Austin starter Grant Remy to score Colaianni for a 1-0 lead. Then, in the second, Jack Baker doubled during a three-run rally. It was more than enough offense for Ridge Point (18-2-1, 8-0), thanks to Roosa. They are a heavy favorite to improve to 9-0 in district play Friday night when they host 0-9 Bush.
Second-place Travis (8-1) stayed one game behind the Panthers, handing Dulles its third straight loss, 5-1. Still, the Vikings are 5-4 and sharing third place with Elkins. The Vikings hope to get back on the winning track with Clements, Kempner and Bush on their schedule between now and Good Friday.
Elkins is at Kempner Friday, while Austin (4-5) is on the outside looking in as they brace for their Friday night date at Travis.
Listen to the podcast of Tuesday’s District 20-6A baseball action, Austin at Ridge Point, and Friday night’s live broadcast, Dulles at Clements, at https://www.spreaker.com/show/fort-bend-sports-powered-by-vype. Next week, listen to these live broadcasts: Tuesday, Ridge Point at Travis, and on Thursday, Travis at Clements, at that same link. Coverage starts at 6:45 p.m.