ALL-AROUND STANDOUT: Guzman fires two-hitter, hits three-run double as Rogers tops rival Academy 6-2
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
RIVALRY DUEL IN ROGERS: Academy sophomore Alex Lawton delivers a pitch to Rogers senior left fielder Logan Hare during the first inning of the host Eagles' 6-2 win over the rival Bumblebees in Tuesday evening's District 19-3A matchup at Clary Neal Field in Rogers. Lawton limited Rogers to two hits and one run through three innings but allowed five runs in the fourth. Eagles junior lefty Lucas Guzman pitched a two-hitter with nine strikeouts and hit a three-run double to cap the big fourth for Rogers, which is now 3-0 in 19-3A. (Photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)
By GREG WILLE
ROGERS – Lucas Guzman produced an impressive performance on the mound and at the plate for the Rogers Eagles against rival Academy on Tuesday night.
The left-handed junior pitched a two-hit complete game with nine strikeouts and hit a three-run double to highlight Rogers' five-run outburst in the fourth inning as the Eagles defeated the Bumblebees 6-2 in a District 19-3A baseball battle at Clary Neal Field.
Guzman recorded his second district victory as Rogers (10-6) improved to 3-0 in 19-3A, while Academy (5-11) dropped to 1-1 in league play.
Guzman allowed a run-scoring double to Bees senior designated hitter Wyatt Gardner in the first inning, but the only hit he permitted in the final six frames was a bunt single by freshman Lukas Boone in the fifth. Mixing a low-80s fastball with a sharp curveball, Guzman notched five strikeouts in the final three innings.
“That's the longest he's gone this year, and he just did a great job tonight of pitching to contact and keeping it in the strike zone,” Rogers head coach Nash Fares said about Guzman, who hurled 104 pitches. “I'm trying to get him to not overthrow and to be more of a pitcher. That's what I was so proud of tonight. He pitched a good game. He wasn't out there throwing; he was pitching. He was hitting his spots and doing a great job.
“He's got such a great 12-to-6 curveball and was really on tonight. This was by far the best he's pitched this year. I'm really excited for him and he's starting to get a lot of confidence.”
After sophomore right-hander Alex Hoffman pitched a five-inning no-hitter last Friday in Academy's district-opening 11-0 home win over Rockdale, Bees head coach Garrett Vail sent sophomore righty Alex Lawton to the mound against Rogers.
Lawton limited the Eagles to two hits and one run through three innings, but they used three hits and three walks to erupt for five runs in the game-changing fourth as a 1-1 deadlock turned into a 6-1 Rogers advantage. In a 3-1 game with two outs, Guzman broke it open by clobbering a three-run double that bounced once before hitting the fence in straightaway right field.
“Their guy did a great job. He was mixing it up early, keeping us off-balance and we weren't hitting,” Fares said about Lawton. “But we finally got patient at the plate and got a few base runners and had some timely hitting.”
Lawton pitched four innings – allowing five hits and five walks – before junior lefty John Tomasek relieved him to begin the fifth and fired two hitless innings with four strikeouts.
Academy drew first blood in the first inning. With two outs, sophomore Lane Ward was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on wild pitches before Gardner ripped an RBI double to left field for a 1-0 Bees lead.
Lawton walked sophomore Rance Williams with one out in the second and threw a wild pitch to push to push him to second. Luke Prado then lined a single to left-center, and Williams ran in to score after center fielder Tomasek misplayed the ball for an error and a 1-1 game.
After Guzman faced only 10 batters in the second through fourth innings, Rogers made its big move in the bottom of the fourth. Junior designated hitter Riley Dolgener drew a leadoff walk, then Jayce Jones bunted him to second and a passed ball moved him to third. The Eagles took the lead for good at 2-1 when Academy had no play on Blayne Hoelscher's RBI infield single up the middle, scoring Dolgener.
Williams walked and Prado hit an infield single as Rogers loaded the bases with one out. Academy got the force out at home plate on a grounder by freshman RJ Cook, but Lawton then walked sophomore leadoff man Jackson Landeros to force in a run for a 3-1 game.
That was followed by the Eagles' big blow, as Guzman launched a one-hop double off the wall in right to drive in Prado, Cook and Landeros and give Rogers a commanding 6-1 lead.
“Lucas is such a great player. He loves the game and wants to go play at the next level,” Fares said about Guzman, an all-district player as a freshman in 2019.
Lawton recorded one more out to escape the fourth before he switched places with Tomasek in the fifth.
After Boone led off the Academy fifth with a bunt single, Guzman responded by getting a strikeout, a fielder's-choice grounder and another strikeout.
The Rogers southpaw did encounter some turbulence in the sixth. Junior Darion Franklin drew a leadoff walk, stole second, reached third with two outs on Gardner's groundout and scored on a wild pitch to cut Academy's deficit to 6-2. Guzman issued walks to Tomasek and sophomore Aric Hickman to give the Bees runners on the corners with two outs for pinch hitter Hoffman, but Guzman retired him on a grounder to second.
After Tomasek stranded a Rogers runner at third in the sixth, Academy couldn't mount a comeback in its final at-bat. Guzman struck out Kyler Smith and Zane Clark and got Lawton to fly out to shallow left to finish his complete-game gem.
Fares said it was the Eagles' best all-around performance this season.
“We could very easily be about 13-3 right now,” he said. “I just told them, 'We've had several games where we've hit the ball really well and scored a lot of runs but we kicked the ball around and gave up some runs. And we've had games where we played really good defense and not hit. I feel like tonight, we finally put it together.'"
On Friday, Academy will host Caldwell at 4 p.m. and Rogers will play at Rockdale at 7.
HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
Rogers 6, Academy 2
Academy 100 001 0 – 2 2 1
Rogers 010 500 X – 6 5 0
A: Alex Lawton, John Tomasek (5) and Kyler Smith. R: Lucas Guzman and Blayne Hoelscher. W – Guzman. L – Lawton. 2B – A: Wyatt Gardner; R: Jackson Landeros, Guzman.
Highlights – A: Gardner run-scoring double in first inning; Darion Franklin two walks, run; R: Guzman nine strikeouts in two-hit complete game, three-run double in fourth; Luke Prado 2-for-3, run; Landeros RBI, run; Hoelscher RBI single; Rance Williams two walks, two runs; Riley Dolgener two walks, run.
Records – Academy 5-11 overall, 1-1 in District 19-3A; Rogers 10-6, 3-0.
Junior varsity – Rogers 10, Academy 5.