By Bryan Sutcliffe
Special to the Press
The Prosper Eagles entered their senior night matchup with the Liberty Redhawks on a two game win streak. With that streak the Eagles earned an opportunity to clinch their first ever playoff berth with a win over Liberty and a loss by Frisco against Heritage. Prosper took care of their end of the deal, whipping Liberty 8-0 in front of an impressive crowd at the Eagles’ Nest. In contrast to their win at Little Elm on Tuesday when they scored four runs on a whopping twelve hits, the Eagles (14-12 overall, 7-6 district 9-4A) plated eight Friday on just six base hits. They took the lead in the bottom of the first by scoring four runs off of just one hit. Junior Tyler Webb started the threat by earning a one out walk off Liberty (16-7-2 overall, 9-4 district 9-4A) starter Dan Hawk. Senior Brandon Grudzielanek then reached on a throwing error that set senior Lance Brooks up with runners at second and third. Brooks delivered an RBI fielders choice grounder that plated Webb. On the play the Redhawk infield caught Grudzielanek between second and third. They botched the rundown, throwing the ball into right field and allowing Grudzielanek to score a second run while Brooks ended up at third. Prosper would head to the second with a 4-0 lead after an RBI single by sophomore Steele Walker and a run scoring sacrifice fly by senior Zach Kubala. Liberty starter Dan Hawk didn’t make it out of the first, replaced by Michael Cantrell after just one third of an inning. With ace TCU-signee Brandon Gilson on the mound for Prosper, a 4-0 lead meant the game was essentially over after the first inning. He faced the minimum nine hitters in completing the first three innings while allowing just one hit. The Eagle offense then blew the game open in the bottom of the third via the extra base hit. Lance Brooks led off with a walk and immediately scored on junior Dean Smith’s first triple of the season. Zach Kubala knocked in his second run in as many at bats, bringing Smith home on a double off the left field wall to give Prosper a 6-0 lead. The Eagles would score two more runs on a passed ball bringing home Tyler Webb in the fourth and an RBI single by senior Aaron Maxey in the sixth that extended his hit streak to six games. Brandon Gilson cruised on the mound to a complete game shutout, but the Redhawks’ goose egg was preserved by two defensive gems from sophomore center fielder Steele Walker. Liberty leadoff man JT VanGelder started the sixth inning with a single and then stole second. After the throw to second on the steal rolled into center field, the speedy VanGelder took off for third. Walker scooped up the ball and unleashed a rocket to third for junior Nathan Colon to apply a perfect tag and record the out. Walker brought the crowd to its feet again with two outs in the seventh. Pinch hitter Justin Crider sent a sinking line drive into center, but Walker made his second diving catch in as many games. This one ended the game and gave the Eagles a three game win streak that ties their longest of the season. Brandon Gilson picked up the win to move to 6-2 on the year. The victory was Gilson’s fourth in as many starts and gave Prosper its first record of two games above .500 this season as well as the Eagles’ first-ever winning district record in the 4A class. After the win Prosper was left to wait for the final score from the Frisco game as they visited Heritage. The Eagles needed a Frisco loss to clinch their first 4A playoff spot, and the good news came ten minutes after the end of the win over Liberty. The team spilled onto the field in celebration after they were told over the public address system that Frisco had lost 3-1 to Heritage. Prosper will play the champion of district 10 which looks most likely to be Highland Park or Forney. Prosper will close out the regular season at Frisco on Friday, April 26. With a win Prosper would finish their first 4A season with a winning district record.
The game Friday will be broadcast and archived at Sportsgram.net. Bryan Sutcliffe is the play-by-play voice of Prosper athletics for the Sportsgram Network