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Senior keeps Yoakum's season alive

By MIKE FORMAN
April 23, 2010 at 11 p.m.
Updated April 22, 2010 at 11:23 p.m.


YOAKUM - Jake Hardin didn't want his Yoakum baseball career to end on senior night.

Hardin knew a loss to Cuero on Friday would almost surely end the Bulldogs' season and he was determined to keep playing.

"It was our last home game for the seniors and we wanted to go out with a bang, a playoff berth," Hardin said. "Of course it was Cuero, a big rival to us."

Hardin made sure Yoakum will play at least one more game by leading the Bulldogs to a 5-3 win over the Gobblers.

Hardin had two hits, scored two runs and drove in two to help Yoakum (10-10) finish District 27-3A play in a third-place tie with Gonzales with a 5-5 record.

The Bulldogs and Apaches, who defeated Edna on Friday night, are expected to play Friday to determine the third-place playoff berth.

"It's a big game and these guys kept playing after going 1-4 the first round by a total of 5 or 6 runs," said Yoakum coach Jace Wood. "Our speech has been you ain't proving yourself at all. You've got to keep proving yourself and proving yourself. They bounced back and they've been bouncing back and they keep competing."

Wood has been especially proud of Hardin, whose leadership and performance at catcher helped the team persevere through the tough times.

"He's got more courage than most players I've ever seen," Wood said. "He played a game where he was absolutely throwing up sick with a virus and I had to take him out and send him home in the second inning because he wasn't going to come out. He's a gutsy player and a true competitor."

Hardin hit a two-run single in Yoakum's three-run fourth inning. After Cuero tied the game, Hardin hit an infield single off reliever Tyler Arndt and scored what proved to be the decisive run on singles by Adam Hunter and Justin Boening. The Bulldogs added an insurance run on a double by Kerry Linn.

"I try not to focus on the losses too much," Hardin said. "I try to learn from them and just try to keep winning and keep a positive attitude. I was very focused, visualizing the game, and making sure everybody else was focused. And, just trying to keep loose at the same time."

Cuero (18-10, 9-1), which had already clinched the district title, saw its bid for an undefeated district season fall short. The Gobblers will get a bi-district bye in the playoffs.

"It's more the mental aspects of the game," said Cuero coach Scott Holder, who team overcame a 9-1 deficit to beat Edna on a walk-off grand slam by Arndt on Tuesday. "We've got to think and be more focused throughout the game. We're playing way too laid back and it's carrying over to our mental side."

Yoakum could not afford to lie back, but Wood wasn't too concerned with Hardin on the field.

"We talk about competitors being the guy who hates losing more than he enjoys winning that's Jake," Wood said. "He's a good leader out here and a true competitor."

DISTRICT 28-3A

Yoakum 5, Cuero 3

Cuero 000 030 0 - 5 6 1

Yoakum 000 302 x - 5 7 0

Tanner Hoffman, Tyler Arndt (5) and Andrew Thibodeaux, Hoffman (5). Adam Hunter and Jake Hardin. W: Hunter (3-5). L: Arndt. Highlights: (C) Arndt 2-for-3, RBI; Thibodeaux 1-for-2, 2B, R. (Y) Hardin 2-for-3, 2 R, 2 RBI; Justin Boening 1-for-2, RBI; Kerry Linn 1-for-3, 2B, RBI. Records: Cuero 18-10, 9-1; Yoakum 10-10, 5-5. Note: Cuero is district champion, Goliad is second, and Yoakum and Gonzales tie for third in district.

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