With only two boys who saw significant time with the varsity in 2012, the Llano High baseball team managed to acquit itself nicely, July 19, against Class 5A Copperas Cove. The summertime Jackets lost twice but had their moments in the field and at the plate. Best of all…
“I like the way they play together and hustle,” said new head coach Mike Ridings. He is not allowed to coach in this offseason, but he can watch and comment.
Llano fell behind 7-0 in the opener before putting on a pretty good rally. The Bulldawgs (spelling correct) won it 11-5. Tyler Stiles, Logan Bauer, and Tommy Yelvington teamed on a fine defensive effort. Matt Stoddard hit a shot to left and was en route to a double until Stiles fired to Bauer who middle-manned his throw to Yelvington, and Stoddard was out.
Catcher Eli Tiffin threw two men out trying to steal the elusive second bag. Both pegs went to Yelvington, but coach Joe Dan Tarter was moving men around more than the rich guy does with hotels in Monopoly, which means: Tommy was the second baseman for one delivery from Tiffin and the shortstop for the other.
“The boys back each other up, and they’re hard workers,” observed Ridings, who has been in coaching for more than three decades.
In the second game against Copperas Cove, known for gridiron eternity as the high school of Robert Griffin III, Kyle Tarter opened the game with a single, and he scored on a Holden Simpson base hit. Simpson was a starter this past spring along with Yelvington.
The ‘Dawgs took a 5-1 lead in the third inning, but the Jackets had their best frame of the (very) hot late afternoon and evening with four runs in the fifth. Jalen Bauman was safe on an error, and Tiffin walked. John Winn, with two outs, singled in both runners.
Aaron Moss received a free pass, and Brett Pippenger kept the inning going with a hit. Moss would score on an error, and Andrew Decker was plunked with the bases loaded, so the tying run strolled home.
Cove broke it open with five in its half of the fifth. These teams spent several evenings together this summer. How many times can a school say it played against one that produced a Heisman Trophy winner?
Decker and Kasin Riley deserve a mention. Andrew made a tumbling catch in left—inches above the grass—of a sure run batted in for Jayson Cole. Riley, at six-foot, three inches, is the new band director’s son. He showed he’ll battle for a spot in the pitching rotation in 2013. Riley was also on the receiving end of a “battery switch.” Catcher Kyle Tarter chased down a ball near the screen and whipped the ball to Kasin covering home, and Dustin Cooper was out.
Llano’s Dusty Jordan, David Durham, and Cooper Hill also spent time away from the evil air-conditioning. Speaking of that, did you see all those sweaters the golfers were wearing at the British Open? Invite ‘em to Llano River.
Back on the hillside with the most interested spectator, Mike Ridings. He applauded Joe Dan Tarter’s work along with his assistants, Zane Bauer and Rick Tiffin for spending so much time with the team and traveling around so often since school ended.
But, he acknowledged: “It’s tough being on the sidelines; I’d rather be in the dugout than trying to talk to Joe Dan through the fence.
“I don’t think this transition for the kids, another new coach, will be a difficult one. They seem to be receptive. I like their team chemistry; they all appear to like each other.
“I’m fortunate to be here, and I’m looking forward to it. I want the guys to enjoy the journey all through baseball.”