Run Scorer

El Campo senior Evan Estrada puts the swing on the ball lifting it for a single to score a run in the second inning at home against Wharton Tuesday night. Estrada tried to put a bunt down to move a runner over but fouled it off twice. With the count 0-2 he gave El Campo their first lead of the night.


The El Campo Ricebirds earned a leg up over rival Wharton Tigers with a 9-3 win at Legacy Field Tuesday night.

El Campo didn’t have any big innings against Wharton, but they put base runners on and scored in every frame.

Ricebird sophomore Dean Poenitzsch went six innings, allowing two runs, spreading out five hits and three walks across his outing. The tall right-hander also struck out four batters.

“I started off pretty slow,” Poenitzsch said. “I couldn’t find control over most pitchers, but in the fourth inning, I found everything.”

Wharton’s bats got a lot of contact off Poenitzsch, but the Ricebird defense came through behind him.

The Tigers struck first in the top of the first inning, taking a 1-0 lead.

Wharton loaded the bases with no outs.

Tiger sophomore Kendon Mayberry hit a deep flyball far enough to get a runner home.

El Campo senior catcher Caiden Schulz fired the ball back to third base catching a Tiger trying to advance, getting a unique double-play. Poenitzsch came back with a strikeout to end the inning.

The Ricebirds used two-out hitting in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. With no base runners and two outs, back-to-back singles from juniors Brock Rod and Bryce Rasmussen - his first of three hits, which lead the team, put Ricebirds on the corners. A passed ball from Wharton allowed Rod to score.

Wharton and El Campo traded runs in the bottom of the second and top of the third, tying the score at two.

El Campo wrestled control of the game away from Wharton in the bottom of the third inning.

Poenitzsch led off the inning with a single, a walk to Rod put two runners on base. Rasmussen followed with a hit just outside the third baseline, rolling down to the fence for a double, allowing both runs to score, giving El Campo a 4-2 lead.

Poenitzsch, over the next three innings, allowed one base runner.

El Campo’s offense kept adding scores to their lead throughout the rest of the game.

“It was a great outting tonight, everybody was able to string together hits, took pitches for the team and (we had) a lot of RBIs,” Ricebird senior Evan Estrada said.

Estrada had two RBIs.

Tiger junior Jaden Compian had three hits, and fellow juniors Sammie Mendez and Ryan Mendiola had two hits. Ricebirds Rod and Poenitzsch had two hits. Rasmussen led the team with three RBIs.

“This was really important,” Poenitzsch said. “We were 1-3 in district. We had to get this win to stay in contention for the district title, so this was a must-win game.”

Both teams were tied for fourth through the first round of district play, El Campo now holds a one-game lead for the final playoff spot with five district games left in the season.

After winning their first district game, the Tigers have lost four straight. El Campo came into the game following a tough one-run loss to state-ranked Bellville on the road.

“They were let down after Bellville. They wanted that one. They felt like they worked for it and it just didn’t go our way,” El Campo coach Jacob Clay said.

Most of El Campo’s losses this season have come late in the game.

“They came out tonight and scored in every frame,” Clay said. “That tells me you’re a little bit locked in, you’re not just having 1-2-3 innings. That’s big for us, the bottom of our lineup produced tonight. It was a good team win.”

El Campo will play Sealy on the road Monday.

Wharton will be home for Brookshire Royal.

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