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  • Greg Wille

REMATCH TIME: After bi-district sweep, No. 9 Academy seeks revenge vs. Whitney in area-round series


LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY – To keep their successful baseball season going and reach the Class 3A Region III quarterfinals, the Academy Bumblebees must get past the team that eliminated from the playoffs a year ago.

It’s an area-round rematch as ninth-ranked Academy (27-3) battles Whitney (17-10) in a best-of-three series that begins at 6:30 p.m. today at Lake Belton High School. The second-round clash continues at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Whitney. If a third game is required, it will be played at noon Saturday at Waco Midway.

After going 11-1 in District 19-3A to win the outright championship, Academy swept past Groesbeck in a bi-district series. Coach Garrett Vail’s Bees overcame a late deficit to defeat the Goats 6-5 in eight innings last Friday in Navasota.

Junior shortstop Lane Ward hit an early three-run triple, senior left-handed pitcher John Tomasek tallied eight strikeouts in three innings in relief of junior righty starter Alex Hoffman to earn the victory and senior second baseman Darion Franklin delivered a run-scoring single in the eighth for a walk-off win.

Academy had a much easier time the following day at the Waco ISD sports complex, beating Groesbeck 12-2 in six innings. Sophomore right-hander Trey Ward racked up 11 strikeouts in a complete game and the Bees lineup battered a series of Goats pitchers in the run-rule win that completed the sweep.

Academy's offense got contributions from Frankin, Tomasek and juniors Lane Ward, Alex Lawton, Hoffman and Kyler Smith along with sophomores Tyler Burnett, Zane Clark and Tyler Burnett.

Meanwhile, Whitney – the No. 3 seed from 17-3A – had to go the distance to advance past 18-3A runner-up Scurry-Rosser in a bi-district series. Scurry-Rosser won 5-2 in Game 1 at Whitney, but the Wildcats returned the favor the next day by prevailing 9-2 and 2-1 at Scurry-Rosser to seize the series victory.

One year ago, fourth-seeded Academy pulled off a first-round surprise by defeating 20-3A champion Franklin in a series that went three games. Whitney knocked the 13-18 Bees out of the playoffs a week later in an area-round series, grabbing a pair of 12-5 wins before Cameron Yoe swept the Wildcats (23-10) 7-6 and 7-5 in the Region III quarterfinals.

The survivor of the Academy-Whitney series will advance to next week’s regional quarterfinals to battle the Franklin-West winner. That best-of-three series began Wednesday evening as fifth-ranked Franklin earned a 3-2 win at West. The series resumes at 7 p.m. Friday in Franklin, with a third game to be played at 5 p.m. Saturday at Salado if necessary.

Franklin swept 19-3A No. 4 seed Rogers 4-0 and 6-3 last week, while West swept defending state champion Malakoff 11-0 and 12-7.

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