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Eagle Baseball claims 16-AAA District Championship

Eagle Baseball claims 16-AAA District Championship
This is the image for the news article titled Eagle Baseball claims 16-AAA District ChampionshipThe Eagles went to Beckville Tuesday night in a showdown for the District 16-AAA Title.  Both teams were tied with identical 11-2 records and both were ranked in the Texas High School Baseball poll, with Beckville at #11 and New Diana at #23.  The Eagles lost the first meeting in district 3-2, but last night the final score was in the favor of the eagles 5-4.  ETVarsity report Hayden Henry wrote the following;

BECKVILLE — The race for the District 16-3A championship came down to the final game of the regular season.

When it came down to getting the final outs as New Diana travelled to Beckville with the title on the line, Eagle head coach Bernie Martinez knew who he was going to turn to to seal it.

With the tying run just to his right, senior Jacob Burton delivered three-straight strikeouts as New Diana claimed the 16-3A crown with a 5-4 win over Beckville in front of a large crowd at Bearcat Field.

"It's one of the challenges of a coach to put a player in that situation," Martinez said. "When you have a guy like Jacob Burton on your team, you want to throw him out there every opportunity.

"Fail or succeed, you want him to know you believe in him and I believe in that young man."

Tied 3-3 after four innings, New Diana, which finished the regular season at 20-5 and 12-2 in 16-3A, reclaimed the lead with a two-spot in the fifth.

Beckville, which enters the postseason with a 20-5 mark as well, put runners on second and third with one out in the sixth when Burton came on in relief of winning starting pitcher Tristan Swain, who moves to 8-0 on the season off the bump, and ended the threat.

After a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, a two-base error again put two runners in scoring position. A wild pitch then made it a one-run game.

Burton then bowed his neck in a big way for the Eagles, striking out the next three in order on 11 pitches.

"That's what he needed tonight," Martinez said. "He was never fazed. He dug down and competed."

It wasn't the only time the Eagles got themselves out of a jam on Tuesday night.

Swain, who struck out three and threw 62 of his 95 pitches for strikes, and the Eagle defense worked out of a two-on, one out jam in the second and limited Beckville to a single run after four-straight singles to start the third.

Offensively, the bottom half of the New Diana lineup led the charge, finishing with six of the Eagles' 10 hits.

Isaiah Martinez doubled and plated two runs and the Eagles got another two-hit night from Dakota DeBraun as well as RBI base knocks from Jordan Stroud and Cody Stanley.

"We need that production," Martinez said. "If we're going to make a run, we have to have it. Our top half has been solid all year long.

"More than that, we need quality at-bats and we got those tonight. That was the biggest difference in the last game against (Beckville starting pitcher) Ethan (Harris), we made him throw more. He's a phenomenal pitcher on a great team and we were just more aggressive tonight."

For Beckville, Ben Bridges finished 3-for-4 with an RBI double. Bryce Osborn had an RBI single and seven Bearcats finished with hits.

Beckville struck first in the bottom of the first inning off a two-out, RBI double to right-center from Bridges.

New Diana answered right back with Stanley laced a two-out single back up the middle, scoring Isaiah Martinez from second for a 1-1 score.

Cole Willeford dropped an RBI single to right and Isaiah Martinez picked up his second RBI on a groundout for a 3-1 New Diana lead in the top of the third.

Beckville led off the third with four-straight singles, the last one coming with an RBI from Osborn. New Diana third baseman then turned an unassisted double play on a dribbler down the line.

In the fourth, Michael Mize singled and scored on a wild pitch for a 3-3 tie.

Landon Dorman drew a leadoff walk in the fifth and scored on Isaiah Martinez' double to right. Stroud then delivered an RBI single to put New Diana up, 5-3.

With runners on the corners in the sixth with one out, Burton picked up a strikeout before a nine-pitch at bat resulted in a flyout.

New Diana went in order in the top of the seventh, the first and only 1-2-3 frame either way.

Harris drew a leadoff walk and Bridges reached safely on a fielder's choice before an error put both in scoring position.

Burton then dug down and fanned the next three in order, lifting New Diana to a district title.

"These guys just like to fight," Martinez said. "They don't like to lose and they don't like to fail.

"Every time they fall short, they're so determined the next opportunity they have. I feel like we're battled tested. This is a tough district. These close games and this fight, that's perseverance for the next challenge."

(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)