ROUND ROCK — Last year, the Carlisle Indians made the school’s first trip to the UIL state baseball tournament.
After a loss in the semifinals, the Indians had revenge on their minds for the past 365 days and took it out on the Stamford Bulldogs to put a Carlisle stamp on the 2013 Class 1A baseball trophy.
On Thursday morning at Dell Diamond, Carlisle got a diamond gem out of the team’s No. 3 pitcher, Zach Brightwell, and clutch hitting from Caleb Colley, Kolton Heim, Jaylan Holland and Shadow Sanders to account for a 6-1 win to claim the Class 1A state baseball title.
The Tribe took control from the get-go, and the pitching of Brightwell — after almost a month without a mound appearance — clinched the school’s first-ever state baseball title. The junior struck out eight, walked one and surrendered three hits to earn the championship game MVP award, presented with the team medals and championship trophy in the postgame.
“I will admit, when coach came up to me last night and told me I was starting, I got really nervous and worried a little too much,” Brightwell said. “But after a while, the team let me know they had my back, the coaches had all the confidence in me, and my defense just said throw the best I could, and they would take care of the rest, and that’s pretty much what we did.
“(The defense) made some key stops at a few crucial times, and the bats finally started to come around for us, and when we started hitting, I just got stronger on the mound with each pitch thinking about winning the title.”
Shortstop Caleb Colley was a huge catalyst for the Indians offensively, as he has been throughout the playoffs. Colley went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and made six putouts at shortstop.
Colley, a junior, got his first hit resulting in a move up on a fielder’s choice, and his first steal of the game. Two pitches later, the speedy Colley scored on a passed ball and a 1-0 lead after two innings.
The lone Stamford run came in the fifth inning. After a Dalton Mathis double, Austin Alvarado moved the runner with a sacrifice bunt before scoring on a fielder’s choice.
Carlisle went through three pitchers while two different outbursts gave the Indians all the cushion they would need to complete the dream.
The Indians put up deuces in the fourth and fifth inning for a 5-1 cushion.
In the fourth inning, consecutive hits by Kolton Heim and Jaylan Holland were followed by a free pass to Ty Baker. Up next, Wednesday’s hero Sanders ripped an RBI single to plate Heim.
“I knew the team needed me to come through and I got some good pitches to hit, and just focused on putting the ball in play,” Heim said after going 2 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI. “Our bats had kinda fallen off a little lately and I just wanted to do my part to help the team.”
Holland scored immediately after that, drawing a throw down to third base after taking a big leadoff. The throw skipped errantly by the Bulldogs third baseman, allowing Holland to race home and make it 3-0.
The final insurance runs came one stanza later after Colley blasted his second hit to start the inning. Heim belted an RBI single, and Holland followed with a single that was also booted to award extra bases. Ty Baker then walked before Holland scored on another Bulldog passed ball to make it 5-1 in the fifth.
Sanders wanted to add on one more insurance run and led off the sixth with a screaming single. Brightwell moved him over with a sacrifice bunt, and a Gunner Baker RBI single plated the final run of the year for the new state champs.
“What can you say,” Carlisle head coach Wes Colley said after the game. “These kids have been the top-ranked team all season, had a target on their back and still fought through some adversity with injuries and pulled together as a team each game to make this so sweet.
“This group of kids is so special and we are like a family. We will miss our leaders and the seniors next year, but we have got some young kids coming up that were here with us today, and now they know what it is to win at this level. Hopefully, this will rub off for seasons to come.”
Carlisle (29-1) has made the playoffs for eight straight years, winning district six times, making two regional final appearances and two state tournament trips.
The game did have a bittersweet mode at the conclusion as longtime baseball coach and guru, Rocky Baker, retired from coaching baseball and will focus on the athletic duties and on head football demands at Carlisle.
TOURNAMENT NOTES: Shadow Sanders was named the Fox Sports Southwest Player of the Game in the semifinal win over Weimar for his offensive heroics, and his relief pitching that proved to be a big difference-maker.
Class 1A State Baseball Final
Dell Diamond, Round Rock
Carlisle 6, Stamford 1
Stamford 000 010 0 — 1 3 3
Carlisle 010 221 x — 6 12 2
Gus West, Ligon West (5), Kyle Barnett (6) and Austin Alvarado. Zach Brightwell and Clay Allphin. W – Brightwell (7-1). L – West (8-1). 2B — S: West, Dalton Mathis. SB — C: Brightwell, Caleb Colley 2. CS — C: Ben Goss. SAC — C: Brightwell. DP — S: 1. LOB — S: 5. C: 9.
RECORDS — Carlisle 29-1. Stamford 26-3.