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Heath Hawks use star power, advance to baseball regional final

By Keith Thompson. (Stephen McClung photo) WAXAHACHIE – Coach Greg Harvey of Rockwall-Heath has a luxury that few coaches in high school ever get to experience. Many will get the opportunity, at some point in their careers, to coach one of those special types of players: the kind who do it all and garner all types of awards.

Harvey, however, is fortunate enough to have two such players at the same time, Jovan Hernandez and Jake Thompson, and both of them literally carried the Hawks through a hard-fought, regional semi-final series against the Waxahachie Indians that went all three games.

Heath pulled out a dramatic, 5-3, series-clinching victory in game three on a sun-splashed day at historic Richards Park in Waxahachie Saturday afternoon.

The Indians forced the deciding game earlier in the day by riding the arm of their talented lefty, Kyle McLeroy, to a 4-2 game-two win. Heath’s only runs came from a towering two-run home run by Jake Thompson (his sixth of the playoffs) over the scoreboard that cut through a fierce Texas wind.

The third game provided the stage for Hernandez and Thompson to further showcase just what they are capable of doing. After falling behind 2-1 through three innings, the Hawks turned the series back into their favor.

Following a walk to the hot-hitting Thompson, Hernandez stepped in and lined a three-run homer down the left field line to give Heath a 4-2 advantage that they would not relinquish.

Starting pitcher Jake Baxter gave the Hawks a very solid five innings of work on the mound and, after each team traded a run, he passed the keys to Jake Thompson for the final two frames. To borrow a slogan from the insurance world, “the Hawks were in good hands.”

Thompson resumed his dominating form from Thursday night and clamped down on the Indians in a scoreless final two innings. The fatigue from Thursday’s outing and the two games from Saturday did not seem to deter him one bit.

“I was exhausted but we desperately wanted this game. I threw the last pitch as hard as I could and just hoped it was near the plate,” said Thompson.

The fastball blew past cleanup-hitter Cameron Phillips for strike three and sent the Hawks and their fans into celebratory mode.

Heath received solid defensive work throughout the games on Saturday. Super sophomore Bret Boswell again displayed why he is already classified as one the state’s best players in the 2013 class by fielding everything flawlessly throughout the series. The very versatile Grayson Lewis threw out a runner at the plate and Jake Bledsoe was solid behind the plate for 14 very hot innings Saturday as temperatures soared into the 90′s.

However, the story line of the series centered around the two prominent Hawks – Hernandez and Thompson. To further emphasize the Heath tandem’s efforts for the three games, consider that Heath tallied 16 runs for the series and they knocked in 13 of them.

Each of them hit two home runs for the series. Each played flawless defense at the corner infield spots. Thompson’s save on the mound in the third game was only overshadowed by his one-hitter on Thursday night, an outing which prompted Waxahachie coach Tracy Wood to comment,

“He is the best we have seen this year. Sometimes the other guy is just better than you are and you move on. That is what happened tonight.”

There are a lot of area coaches who have expressed those sentiments over the last three seasons after running up against Heath’s dynamic duo.

The Hawks now move on to the Region II finals against the Mesquite Poteet Pirates in a three-game series. All three games will be played at Duncanville High School at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and, if necessary, game three will be Saturday evening.

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