Dawson diamondmen remain atop District 23-6A leaderboard

PEARLAND — With only two district games remaining in the regular season, it appears that the Dawson Eagles will capture the 23-6A title. At the present time, the Eagles are 10-0 and have already claimed their spot in the 6A Region III playoffs.

"The district championship means a great deal to this team," said Dawson head coach Kerry Cox. "It was the first step in the goals they set prior to this season and it's nice to check that one off."

Dawson won two games last week including a hard-fought 2-1 win over cross-town cousin Pearland giving them a sweep of the Oilers in league play this year.

Dawson's J.P. Marrero and Adam Houghtaling proved to be the heroes for the Eagles and both were clutch in seeing the Eagles get the critical 2-1 win over their district rival.

The Eagles scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the third to grab a 1-0 lead when Houghtaling blasted an opposite-field double to left, and courtesy runner Jalen Freeman advanced to third on a wild pitch.

Marrero then sliced a grounder to the right side of the infield for a 4-3 putout, but Freeman easily scored on the play for a 1-0 Eagle lead.

Pearland tied the game in the sixth when Mason Lytle reached on an infield single, Ryan Finke took first on an error at third, and Carter Allen doubled down the line in left field making the score 1-1.

The Oilers lost a chance to score another run when Cole Smajstrla had singled earlier, but was thrown out easily at second base on a botched hit-and-run situation.

"We didn't execute two bunts, and we missed a hit-and-run sign and got thrown out," Pearland head coach Anthony Scalise said. "We scored one run in the sixth that should have been three runs if we execute."

With the scored tied 1-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, Pearland pitcher Mason Lytle retired leadoff hitter Austin Langland on strikes.

However, Jason Scott stepped up to single to center and Houghtaling singled to right before Marrero lashed his shot to deep left to plate the game's deciding run for a 2-1 victory for the Eagles.

"When Adam's on the mound…he's the best guy in our district, offensively and defensively," Scalise said. "We know that, and it's not a secret. Our approach was to be aggressive.

"When hit some balls hard, but at the end of the day, we didn't score when we had two outs. If we don't execute against Dawson, we don't beat them.

"Then, when you get to the heart of their lineup in the seventh inning, they can absolutely swing it. They did a good job of hitting the ball hard."

Colby Casey had a good outing on the mound for Pearland, working five strong innings and striking out eight while allowing five hits.

However, Dawson, which had nine hits, made several base-running mistakes that helped Pearland stay within striking distance. But in the end, the Eagles took advantage of the moment to remain undefeated in league play.

Houghtaling was the winning pitcher for Dawson as surrendered one run on seven hits over seven innings, striking out seven and walking zero.

Dawson 8 - Alief Elsik 1

Dawson maintained their perfect district mark with an 8-1 win over the Alief Elsik Rams.

Elsik actually scored their only run in the bottom of the first and kept the slim lead until Dawson's offense finally got untracked in the top of the fifth frame with they scored five runs to take a 5-1 lead.

The Eagles added another run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to take control of the game for the 8-1 victory.

Austin Langland pitched 4.1 innings giving up two hits, one run on an error while striking out six and walking three. Hunter Richey stepped in relief for 1.2 innings without giving up a hit or run and then Tyler Langston cleaned up the final frame with two strike outs.

The fifth inning offense was led by Adam Houghtaling (2-for-2, 2 runs), Luke Hass (1-for-1, 1 run, 2 RBIs), and Austin Langland (1-for-3, 1 RBI) who all sent runners across the plate with RBIs in the inning.

Justin Rodriquez was also 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Hass, Gio Iannuzzi, and Rodriguez all had doubles at the plate.

Dawson will close out the regular season at Alief Hastings on Friday, April 27 at 7:00 p.m. The Eagles have clinched the 23-6A title.

"I think our team chemistry is really good,' Dawson head coach Kerry Cox said. "Also, I think our ability to not live in the past or look too far ahead has helped us tremendously. The team has adopted a phrase this year that applies to games and practice, "Let's go 1 and 0 Today.

Honestly the guys just need to keep doing what they've been doing and never let the moment get too big. I want them to keep having fun and playing for each other like they have been."

Dawson has used their senior leadership to experience the success this season in capturing the league title.

"The senior leadership has been key to our success," Cox said. "There's nothing quite like experience when the situation gets tense and/or your team is in a hostile environment. With 16 seniors it's hard to single out any body because they've all "carried the water" at some point in the season."