Senior starter goes the distance as Wildcats move to within one win of advancing
By Devin Hasson firstname.lastname@example.org
ROWLETT–Plano Senior was all business in the opener of its Class 5A area round best-of-3 series against Rowlett on Friday.
The Wildcats scratched across single runs in four different innings and Kenneth Tabor did the rest, allowing just one run and striking out six, including a punchout of Sean Moore to finish off a 4-1 victory at Rowlett High School.
“Kenneth (Tabor) is tough, he competes every pitch and that is what he has done all year long. He doesn’t give in and he competes until the time I may have to come in to take him out, and even then, he’s mad in the dugout because I took him out. He throws strikes and battles every pitch and that is what he did today.”
Plano (25-9-1) can close out the series with a victory at home at 1 p.m. Saturday. If the Eagles (20-13-1) can stay alive, the deciding game would be played 30 minutes after the end of Game 2.
“We expected a tough game. They are one of our scrimmages every year and we played in a couple of the same tournaments, so we’ve seen each other play. Knowing Paul (Carmon, Rowlett head coach), I knew they were going to bring a good team ready to play,” said Plano Senior head coach Rick Robertson, who coached in the same district as Carmon and Rowlett during his days at South Garland. “When you play a good, fundamental team, you expect it to be low scoring and fortunately, we got enough hits.”
Tabor, who threw strikes on 64 of his 104 pitches, took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. After Bryce Weatherby reached on an error, Aiden Abueva singled to right for Rowlett’s first hit. Mike Williams then had a RBI single to draw to within 3-1, but Tabor induced a weak ground ball to strand the tying run at first base.
The Eagles got a one-out single from Payton Nix in their final at-bat, but Tabor quickly slammed the door by framing the corner on a 3-2 pitch to end it.
“Kenneth is tough, he competes every pitch and that is what he has done all year long,” Robertson said. “He doesn’t give in and he competes until the time I may have to come in to take him out, and even then, he’s mad in the dugout because I took him out. He throws strikes and battles every pitch and that is what he did today.”
The Wildcats scratched across an unearned run in the top of the first inning and made it 2-0 in the third when A.J. Liu patiently drew an eight-pitch walk with the bases loaded that forced Connor Brady in from third.
In the fifth, Mitchell Hansen ripped a double right over third base and Brady came through with a two-out RBI single to stretch the lead to 3-0.
After Rowlett had got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth, Plano countered with an insurance run in its next at-bat, as Hansen reached with his second double of the game and Michael Davis came through with a two-out base hit to make it 4-1.
“The bottom of the order was on base a lot,” Robertson said. “That is what they have done this season, it is someone different stepping up every game and making something happen.”
Plano got the combination of pitching, defense and timely hitting it wanted to see, but despite being in the driver’s seat, they understand there is no time to relax heading into tomorrow.
“We treated this like a business trip; we wanted to get Game 1 and then get back home and take care of business,” Robertson said. “It’s not over, they are going to come back focused and ready so we need to do the same. These guys want to move on, so we have to go out and get one more.”
Follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson