BULLARD — It had to end sometime.
Colleyville Covenant Christian pitcher Justin Garcia quieted Bullard Brook Hill’s bats and the Cougars offense exploded in the later innings en route to a 10-1 win over the Guard on Tuesday in their TAPPS 3A area playoff game at Herrington Field.
Covenant (25-12) moves on to play Fort Worth Temple Christian in the next round while Brook Hill (16-8), after three straight state championships, was eliminated from the playoffs for the first time since 2010, a season in which they were eliminated in the state final.
“Their pitcher was really good; the slider that he threw and the late breaking (curve) that we had a very difficult time picking up,” Brook Hill coach Brock Lemire said of Garcia. “I told them the deciding factor of this game was defense. They played a little better defense than we did.”
Garcia went the distance, allowing one run on four hits with 14 strikeouts.
Brook Hill committed four errors in the sixth and seventh innings. Combined with Covenant’s eight hits, the miscues helped produce seven runs and turned a close 2-1 contest through five innings into a runaway win for the visitors.
“We had a couple errors in a row and they had a good pitcher on the mound,” Lemire said. “We hadn’t seen that kind of velocity in a while and it kind of caught up to us. But I like the way the guys competed. When they were down, they didn’t hold their heads. They worked hard.
“We just don’t have a pitcher in our district like that guy, but you live and you learn and these young kids are going to learn from this game.”
Brook Hill pitcher Clayton Engel took the loss, allowing two runs on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
The Guard trailed 2-0 entering the bottom of the fourth and had yet to register a hit against Garcia. Engel changed that with a two-out single. He stole second but was stranded there.
Daniel Priddy took the mound for Brook Hill in the top of the fifth and set down Covenant in order.
Brook Hill got on the board in the bottom of the fifth when Seth Brasher led off with a single and stole second base, going to third on a throwing error. Priddy then lifted a pop fly to left field and Brasher just snuck in under the tag on a close play at the plate to make it 2-1.
Covenant made it 3-1 in the top of the sixth when Micah Lutz had a two-out double and scored on a single from Jacob Garcia.
Then the wheels began to loosen and eventually come off for Brook Hill.
Two straight errors plated two more runs to make it 5-1.
In the seventh, Covenant used infield singles, bunt singles, errant throws and overall agressiveness to score five more runs.
Brook Hill began the seventh with an infield single, but was thrown out on a fielder’s choice and Garcia put down the Guard for good a few minutes later.
Despite the loss and season ending prematurely, Lemire is proud of his players and excited for the future.
“We’ll come back next year and work harder and get better,” Lemire said. “We are only graduating one senior with a strong sophomore and junior class coming back. It will be full-steam ahead and we will come back stronger next year.”
TAPPS 3A Area Playoffs
Colleyville Covenant Christian 10, Bullard Brook Hill 1
Covenant 002 003 5 — 10 14 1
Brook Hill 000 010 0 — 1 4 4
Justin Garcia and Austin Alvarez; Clayton Engel, Daniel Priddy (5), Ryan Cox (7) and BlakeMaddox. W – Garcia. L – Engel. 2B – Micah Lutz, Alvarez.
RECORDS — Covenant Christian 25-12; Brook Hill 16-8.
NEXT UP — Covenant Christian vs. Fort Worth Temple Christian, TBD.