The Athens Review
For Josh Darden and Travis Takata, the road to the regional quarterfinals went through them on Saturday afternoon.
In Game 3, the duo combined to shut down the Crandall Pirates in a 13-10 area round series win.
Travis Takata started the game for the Hornets and then Josh Darden was asked to come on in relief.
Both players have been on the varsity for the past two years under coach David Sheppard and Dallas Robertson.
Takata said after recording the game-winning hit in Game 2 of a 4-3 walk-off victory, he had to get refocused for Game 3.
“After the game I tried to put it (the hit) behind me and focus on Game 3,” Takata said. “I went through my routine and got ready for the game. It was tough but I knew that my teammates would pick me up. I wanted to give my team every chance to win.”
Darden said when the time came for him to come on in relief of Takata he jumped out the chance.
This was only Darden’s fourth time to see action on the mound this year.
Fans usually see Darden taking care of right field for starters Garrett Conley and Morgan Gimler.
“I was excited and ready to come in and help out my team,” Darden said.
The Hornets were able to put together four runs in the top of the sixth inning to give them a 13-9 lead heading into the final inning.
Takata said those four runs played a huge role in the outcome of the game.
“That was definitely because we didn’t want to go into the bottom of the seventh tied up,” Takata said. “Anything could have happened then and they could have done it the same way. It was important for us to score those four runs.”
Following a home run by Texas Tech commit Ryan Long in the bottom of the seventh on his seventh pitch at bat against Darden, he was able to get out of the inning with no additional damage.
With the Hornets looking to end a five year run in the state tournament for the Pleasant Grove Hawks, a big area will be pitching and Darden is confident.
“I think we are ready to get in there and show them what we can do,” Darden said. “We have got the chance to win it and they lost seven players from last years team so I think we have a shot.”
The Hornets won their first series in three games as all of those games were decided in the seventh inning.
Takata said you can not deny they have put in the work to get to this regional quarterfinal spot.
“We are definitely battle tested,” Takata said. “I see this being a difficult series and I think we can get it done.”
Both players said this is a big series for them and Takata has already made his prediction.
“It is definitely important and we are going to come out and try and get a W for our team,” Takata said. If you work hard good things will happen. I am calling this series in three games.”
“I feel pretty good about this series and I think we can take it,” Darden said.