BASEBALL PLAYOFFS: Academy set for first-round series against 20-3A champion Franklin
By GREG WILLE
LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY – The Academy baseball team begins its Class 3A bi-district playoff series against District 20-3A champion Franklin on Thursday evening. The entire best-of-three series will be played at Nutrabolt Stadium in Bryan.
Game 1 is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, then the Bumblebees (11-15) – seeded fourth out of 19-3A – and the Lions (20-6) will meet again in Game 2 at 7 p.m. Friday. If a third game is needed, it will be played at noon Saturday.
The Academy-Franklin winner will advance to next week's area round against 17-3A runner-up Whitney (19-8), ranked No. 20 in the state, or 18-3A No. 3 seed Eustace (13-13-1). That best-of-three series also begins Thursday.
Coach Garrett Vail's Academy squad came back in the final inning to overtake 19-3A champion Cameron Yoe for an 8-7 home win April 24, but the Bees were unable to catch Caldwell – which edged Academy in both matchups – for the district's No. 3 seed behind No. 21 Yoe and league runner-up Rogers.
Academy's pitching staff is paced by sophomore right-handers Alex Hoffman and Alex Lawton along with junior lefty John Tomasek, who starts in center field and often enters in relief situations.
The Bees' offense is led by Tomasek, Lawton, senior designated hitter Wyatt Gardner, junior second baseman Darion Franklin, sophomore first baseman Aric Hickman and sophomore third baseman Lane Ward.
Franklin beat Teague 13-0 in five innings last Tuesday behind a no-hitter with nine strikeouts by pitcher Jayden Rocha. The Lions lost 6-3 to 4A No. 20 Bellville in a playoff warmup game Monday.