High School Baseball: London's second-inning surge pushes it past Brock

Len Hayward
Corpus Christi Caller Times

ROUND ROCK — Facing an early deficit Friday morning, London’s bats woke up sooner rather than later and now the Pirates will be playing for a state championship.

Brock scored two runs in the first inning to take an early lead but in the second, London’s offense answered.

The Pirates took advantage of two walks from Brock starter and Angelo State signee Carson Lightfoot, along with some clutch hitting, to put six runs on the board on the way to a 7-2 victory in a Class 3A state semifinal at Dell Diamond.

The runs staked London starter Kade Budd to a comfortable lead and he took advantage, not allowing a run after the first inning and retiring 16 straight Eagles at one point.

Now the Pirates (33-5-1), who start four freshmen, will play for a state championship on Saturday morning against Malakoff, marking the first time a Coastal Bend team has done that since 2015 when Bishop played West, also in Class 3A.

“It feels amazing, it’s a great feeling,” Budd said.

London players celebrate against Brock in the Class 3A UIL State baseball semifinal, Friday, June 11, 2021, at Dell Diamond in Round Rock. London won, 7-2.

How the Pirates did it

Brock came out running in the opening inning, including pulling off a double steal to score two runs.

The Pirates, though, responded with a run in the bottom half and then in the second, showed patience at the plate against a hard-throwing Lightfoot to draw two early walks.

Two batters later, Mason Arispe followed with a two-run single to give London the lead and it turned out to be for good. Freshman Landon Salinas added a two-run double later in the inning, and he later scored on an error. Salinas finished the day 2 for 3 with three RBI and a double. 

The Pirates put up six runs in the inning, sending 10 hitters to the plate and were up 7-2. London had six total hits in the game and four came in the second inning.

“It was just to stay within our game plan and play for one run an inning,” said London co-coach Albert Amaya on London’s approach. “There were still seven innings left in the game and our plan was one run an inning and go from there. We are just focusing on having good at-bats, trying to run (Lightfoot’s) pitch count up a little bit and just try to put pressure on them as well. I think our team did that.”

London's Kade Budd pitches the ball against Brock, Friday, June 11, 2021, at Dell Diamond in Round Rock. London won, 7-2.

Budd’s day

After the first inning, Budd was simply lights out on the mound. Budd struggled in a start against district rival Bishop in a regional final series last week but responded on Friday with one of his best outings of the season.

Budd threw a complete game, giving up two runs on two hits with 10 strikeouts. Budd gave up hits in the first and seventh inning

“I think my key is mixing up my fastball and change-up,” Budd said after the game. “I had command of both pitches pretty good.”

Amaya said Budd was back to his regular season form on Friday, and the coaching staff and players knew Budd would rebound from last week’s rough start.

“We knew in the bottom of our hearts that we were going to get Kade Budd’s best game today and he did that,” Amaya said. “He took all the pressure off all the other players and he took it upon himself and Kade Budd was the Kade Budd that he’s been all year long for us. We wouldn’t want any other pitcher in any game. He is a big-game pitcher, no doubt.”

London's Landon Salinas, center, celebrates the team's win win against Brock in the Class 3A UIL State baseball semifinal, Friday, June 11, 2021, at Dell Diamond in Round Rock. London won, 7-2.

Next up

London will play either Region II champion Malakoff in the state championship at 9 a.m. at Dell Diamond.

Malakoff (37-7) was ranked No. 5 by Texas High School Baseball magazine at the beginning of the playoffs and is a senior-heavy team with three Division I signees. The Tigers are also making their first state tournament appearance as head coach John Adair is set to retire.

Malakoff advanced to the final with a 4-3 win, plating the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning. 

UIL State Baseball:London combines talented freshmen and experience on run to state

Len Hayward is a USA Today Sports Network Region sports director and the Caller-Times sports editor. Support more coverage like this by checking out our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe