chron.comNews, search and shopping from the Houston Chronicle
Paper: Houston Chronicle
Date: SUN 05/17/1998
Section: Sports
Page: 7
Edition: 4 STAR

Bellaire strikes early, often vs. F.B. Austin / Cardinals advance with 12-5 victory


Bellaire matched the hazy conditions outside by putting up a smoke screen around Fort Bend Austin in the Astrodome on Saturday morning.

The Cardinals came out smoking and rolled to a 12-5 victory in the Class 5A Region III area-round game to earn a regional quarterfinal berth against Spring Woods.

Bellaire (28-4) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and added a run in the second off Fort Bend Austin ace Chris Sheffield (11-2), who has signed to play for the University of Miami.

But the Bulldogs (25-6) staged a rally in the bottom of the second.

After D.J. McCall was hit by a pitch and moved to third on two walks by Bellaire starting pitcher Jonathon Gonzalez, Cardinals coach Rocky Manuel had seen enough. He brought in Matt Laird from the bullpen.

"We were planning on using our bullpen if there was any trouble," Manuel said. "We would have thrown everybody in the bullpen if we had to."

After the switch, things got worse for Bellaire as a passed ball scored McCall and a double in the right-field corner by Chadd Hayes put Austin in front 4-3.

Austin added a run in the third on an RBI single by Sheffield for a two-run lead.

But Bellaire then decided the outcome in the next two innings as the Cardinals poured across eight runs - three in the fourth and five in the fifth.

Sheffield walked five batters in the fourth and gave up a two-run single to Kenard Bibbs as Bellaire regained the lead at 6-5.

In the fifth, Bellaire put the game out of reach 11-5 as Thomas Crosby, brother of Rice All-American Bubba Crosby, highlighted the rally by slugging a three-run homer.

"It was a fastball right there," Crosby said. "I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it . . . it was really fun hitting one in this place."

Crosby finished the day 1-for-2 and had a walk, a sacrifice fly and five RBIs.

"Crosby is a great hitter," Manuel said. "He's come through for us all year and this was a big one for him."

Bibbs finished the day with four runs scored and teammate Marc Coles went 2-for-3 with two singles and three runs scored.

"We played our hearts out," Fort Bend Austin coach Todd Moehlig said.

"A lot of things didn't go our way . . . we fought back and took the lead, but some games just feel like they are out of your hands."

Copyright notice: All materials in this archive are copyrighted by Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst Newspapers Partnership, L.P., or its news and feature syndicates and wire services. No materials may be directly or indirectly published, posted to Internet and intranet distribution channels, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed in any medium. Neither these materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use.