An RBI sacrifice fly to center field from Zach Tjelmeland lifted the Dripping Springs Tigers to a walk-off 4-3 win over the LBJ Jaguars Friday, capping off a dramatic come-from-behind victory.
“I was thinking, ‘I really shouldn’t have swung at that last pitch,’” Tjelmeland said. “But I knew I had to put the ball in the air, somewhere in the outfield, and that did the job. I just tried to put the bat on the ball and it was a good feeling.”
In addition to bringing the game-winning run across the plate, Tjelmeland earned the win on the mound for Dripping Springs by going 6.2 innings and only giving up two hits, two walks, while also striking out eight Jaguar batters.
Tjelmeland entered the contest to relieve senior R.J. Cabela, who exited with a bases-loaded jam and only one out.
“I knew I was going to have to come in at some point, and it was just a matter of whether my arm was ready or not,” said Tjelmeland. “I felt good so I just went out there and tried to do my job.”
LBJ scored three runs in the top of the first inning off of a pair of hits. All three of the earned runs were attributed to Cabela, as he walked and hit three of the first four batters he faced.
Tjelmeland settled in soon after and didn’t allow another hit the rest of the way.
“R.J. just didn’t have his stuff early tonight and our gameplay was to go right from him to Zach and it just worked out,” said Dripping Springs head coach Chris Payne. “The team put him on their backs and said, ‘let’s go get a win.’”
Dripping Springs got on the board in the bottom the first as senior Ryan Davenport scored on a Jaguars throwing error. In the second inning, the Tigers tied the game at 3-3 with another score off an LBJ fielding error, coupled with a hard-hit single to center field by sophomore Brennan Frickel that brought another runner home.
“It was just a heads up and aggressive play there in the first inning to get a scratch back for us on Davenport coming around third base on their throwing error,” Payne said. “It doesn’t matter how we get it, we just need to chop wood every inning and that’s how we’ve been operating.”
After an explosive first inning, the contest turned into a pitching duel between Tjelmeland and LBJ’s Jack Murphy. In the bottom of the seventh the Tigers got the best of Murphy, loading the bases via infield bunt singles and an intentional walk.
“We take a lot of pride in bunting, one through nine in our lineup has to be able to bunt,” said Payne. “We will never quit doing that, and we will continue to put pressure on the defense.”
With the bases loaded and a full count, Tjelmeland launched a pitch deep into center field that scored the go-ahead run.
“He’s (Tjelmeland) been hitting the ball real well, he’s been in the three hole just about every game this season. So we had a lot of confidence in him and he delivered,” Payne said.
Dripping Springs travels to play at Lockhart Friday, followed by a road contest against district leading McCallum April 16. The Tigers return home April 18 when the host McCallum at 7 p.m.