Regional baseball: Osceola eliminates Lennard with clutch sixth-inning hit

The Warriors move on to Saturday’s region semifinal thanks to solid pitching and hitting.
Osceloa pitcher Corey Braun (10) winds up during the second inning of Wednesday's Class 7A region quarterfinal against Lennard. (ALLIE GOULDING | Times)
Osceloa pitcher Corey Braun (10) winds up during the second inning of Wednesday's Class 7A region quarterfinal against Lennard. (ALLIE GOULDING | Times)
Published May 15

SEMINOLE ― Osceola sophomore Michael Doyle admitted he’s been having trouble with the curve this season. So he spent time between games working on staying in the batter’s box and hitting the curveball to rightfield.

His work paid off in Wednesday night’s 2-0 Class 7A region quarterfinal win over Lennard.

In the sixth inning of a scoreless game, Doyle came to the plate against Lennard starter Yazael Nunez with runners on second and third. Payne Curley and Eddie Daraphet led off the inning with singles, but were only able to move up 90 feet after two outs.

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Doyle saw three straight balls, but Nunez came back with two strikes. After two foul balls, Doyle got the curveball he was looking for and lined it to rightfield. Curley and Daraphet both scored.

“Earlier in the game (Nunez) got down and started throwing me the curveball,” Doyle said. “So I was looking curveball. He threw the 3-2 curveball and I was just thinking right side. I’ve been working on hitting the curveball to the right side. It finally paid off.”

Lennard's Yazael Nunez fares well in the region quarterfinal loss to Osceola, striking out nine. (ALLIE GOULDING  |   Times)
Lennard's Yazael Nunez fares well in the region quarterfinal loss to Osceola, striking out nine. (ALLIE GOULDING | Times)

The two runs were enough for starter Corey Braun. The sophomore scattered six hits and kept the Longhorns off balance throughout the game. He ended with nine strikeouts, three of which came in the seventh inning to close out the win.

“I just threw strikes and hit my spots,” Braun said. “The off-speed pitches were working. Once we got those runs I was just relieved.”

Braun didn’t get into much trouble, but the start was a bit shaky. He allowed hits to three of the first four batters he faced. But a strikeout and a runner caught stealing kept runners on second and third with two outs. He was then able to get a strikeout to end the inning.

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Lennard (18-7) left two runners on in the third and got a runner to third base in the fifth. But Braun was able to pitch out of both jams. In the fifth, third baseman JT Fondren made a diving play on an Edward Tarrant grounder to end the inning.

Osceola (18-10) left a runner on third in the second and runners on second in both the third and fourth innings. Doyle made sure runners weren’t stranded in the sixth.

“(Doyle) is only a sophomore,” Osceola coach Stefan Futch said. “Corey is a sophomore. Eddie, who got the second hit in the sixth, is a sophomore. The nucleus of this team is sophomores.”

Nunez pitched well despite the loss. He struck out nine and only allowed four hits, three of which came in the sixth inning.

The Warriors will host Braden River on Saturday in the region semifinals.

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