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Franklin defeats Brock with well executed small ball in Class 3A state championship

Brock baseball could not execute on several challenging defensive plays, and it cost the Eagles a state championship.

Franklin made things tough on Brock with well placed hits and well executed small ball to secure a 7-4 victory in the Class 3A title game on Saturday at Dell Diamond. Reliever Josh Atomanczyk slammed the door with 4 2/3 scoreless innings and made a terrific backhand play to finish the ballgame.

The game was tied at 4-4 for three consecutive frames ahead of the seventh inning. Brock had two outs when the game snowballed out of control.

A high pop fly in shallow left field dropped right on the inside of the third base line with three Eagles near the play batting the sun A run scored. The Lions continued to score three runs in the inning and the Eagles failed to respond.

The 2024 Class 3A state championship renewed a championship rivalry between Franklin and Brock. The Lions and Eagles faced off in the 2022 Class 3A football championship that culminated in a game winning field goal for Franklin.

The Lions made their first baseball state tournament appearance in the 2024 season, capitalizing with a title win. Brock made its eighth state tournament appearance following a District 8-3A regular season title. The Eagles’ sole state championship came in the 2008 season.

Small ball gets the job done for Franklin

Franklin got off to a hot start, putting up three runs in the first inning with high quality small ball. A walk, wild pitch, sacrifice bunt and a weak ground ball for an infield single from freshman first baseman AJ Phillips plated the Lions first run.

A perfectly placed bunt single in between the pitchers’ mound and first base scored the second run. Another bunt from junior catcher Noah Tart was perfectly placed down the third base line for an RBI single.

Brock got on the board in the bottom half of the first with a walk from Canon Lightfoot and a pair of wild pitches from Franklin starter Cadyn Shaw. The Lions retook a three run lead in the third inning with the same small ball strategy; a walk, sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch set up a sacrifice fly from senior third baseman Eric Gomez.

The bottom half of the third inning, however, saw the Eagles’ offense come alive. Senior center fielder Sawyer Strosnider, a TCU commit, recorded Brock’s first hit of the day with an RBI triple that scored Texas Tech commit Jesse Rusinek, who walked.

Brock’s Cooper Massey cut the lead with a sacrifice fly and Asa Parenteau tied the ballgame with a two out single up the middle of the infield.

Following three scoreless innings from both squads, the Lions started their seventh inning offensive onslaught. Brock reliever Cole Stanley kept the Lions’ offense contained for three innings. He threw a great inning in the seventh, but the Eagle defense was put in a challenging spot and could not make the potential highlight plays.

Stanley was charged with one earned run and gave up three hits in four innings. Brock starting pitcher Cam Harris allowed three earned runs and three hits in three innings pitched.