Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Keeton, Veazey help Hornets down Rockets in district opener

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Sophomore Gehrig Keeton spun a three-hit shutout, and Bralen Veazey hit a two-run homer as Gatesville beat Robinson 8-0 in the 23-4A opener for both teams.

For Keeton, it was his second straight stellar start. In a 3-1 loss to Brownwood on Mar. 19, he gave up five hits, two earned runs, and threw just 61 pitches in a complete game loss.

Against Robinson, he allowed only an infield single in the second inning, a double in the fourth, and a single in the sixth as he kept Rockets hitters off balance with a mix of pitches throughout the night.

“He is putting the ball on both corners of the plate, throwing his curveball and slider for strikes and is even mixing in his changeup. That combination of things makes it hard to hit him hard consistently,” said Gatesville head coach Chase Smith.

Keeton had a pair of hits and an RBI himself but was bolstered by a big offensive night from the Hornets other ace, Bralen Veazey.

Veazey drove in four runs on a pair of hits – the biggest being his two-run blast over right-center field wall in the third inning. Veazey’s other two RBI came in the top of the sixth when the Hornets scored four times to turn a 4-0 lead into an 8-0 rout.

Sophomore Jastin Muegge led off the inning with a single then advanced to third when the Rockets misplayed a Justin Johnson bunt. Clayton Gregory delivered a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Muegge to make it 5-0. Then Keeton singled to left field to score Johnson and give the Hornets a 6-0 lead.

After Lawson Mooney drew a two-out walk, Veazey rifled a single to right field to score Logan Biggs and Sean Aguilar and make the score 8-0.

Gatesville had eight singles to go along with Veazey’s homer and Keeton’s double. They also had a pair of sacrifice flies in a game where offensive approach was both aggressive and selfless. 

“We moved runners up and weren’t taking as many of those monster hacks that usually come up empty tonight. Just smooth, head-still swings. It was nice to see,” said Smith.

Veazey, Muegge, and Keeton had a pair of hits each while Biggs, Gregory, Mooney, and Miles Tull had a hit apiece. Gregory drove in two runs, including the first run of the game with a single in second inning.

Last season, Gatesville dropped a pair of extra-inning losses to Robinson en route to an 0-4 district start before righting the ship and advancing to the regional quarterfinals. The Hornets and Rockets met again on Mar. 28 in Gatesville, and a season-sweep would give the Hornets an edge in terms of playoff seeding in District 23-4A.

“It’s always big when you are able to get a win against those guys. Dropping both games like we did to those guys last year was a shot to the gut for sure. Hopefully, we can build off this win and keep the momentum rolling,” Smith said.