HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: Hallmark homers, tosses shutout as Midland High beats Odessa High

With one crack of the bat, Midland High senior Jaxon Hallmark held an advantage over the Odessa High baseball team.

The Bulldogs shortstop and right-handed pitcher supplied a solo home run to left field in the top of the first inning.

Hallmark wasn’t finished there as he proceeded to throw a complete-game shutout as Midland High defeated the Bronchos 4-0 in a District 2-6A contest Saturday at Pressly Field.

“(Hallmark) was really good up there on the mound,” Odessa High head coach Josh Hulin said. “We knew that he was going to be good and pound the zone. He’s got some velocity and a good breaking ball.

“He was throwing all three pitches for a strike today and where he wanted. Good job by him.”

Midland High head coach Barry Russell said Hallmark hasn’t been fortunate on the mound.

Hallmark entered Saturday’s contest with back-to-back one-run losses to Rockwall and El Paso Montwood. The senior right-hander limited Odessa High to four hits and struck out four on 72 pitches. The most pitches Hallmark threw in any inning was 14 during the fourth inning, but he recorded eight in each of the previous two frames.

Russell said the opportunity for Hallmark to step on the mound hinges on the ability of sophomore backup shortstop Tyler Wade, who finished with a single and committed no errors in the field.

“Hallmark is an outstanding shortstop. He’s a Division I player,” Russell said. “I can’t take him off of shortstop unless Tyler Wade plays well at short. It’s kind of an overlooked deal, but Jaxon threw strikes, kept (Odessa High) off balance and we scratched across a couple of runs against a very tough team.”

Hallmark put the Bulldogs (8-10 overall, 2-1 District 2-6A) on the scoreboard when he drove a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall. Midland High had a chance with the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the fourth inning, but Odessa High starting pitcher Shandon Herrera collected a strikeout and a double play to eliminate the threat.

However, Herrera couldn’t escape trouble in the top of the fifth inning. The Bulldogs posted three insurance runs in the frame that started with a pair of walks to Michael Hailey and Hallmark. Sam Bertelson supplied a two-run double and Chris Sims followed with an RBI double to give Midland High its 4-0 lead.

“I thought (Herrera) competed really well,” Hulin said. “I’m not going to say that he had his best stuff, because he’s got good stuff and he’s a good pitcher, but I thought he competed really well and gave us a chance to win this game. We just got beat by a good dude on the mound today.”

Odessa High (12-7, 2-1) struggled to string at bats together. Robert Morales supplied a team-high two hits, while Jacob Munoz and Bo Martinez had singles in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively. The Bronchos never reached second base as Midland High junior catcher Sam Matchus threw out a pair of Odessa High runners attempting to steal second and the Bulldogs turned a double play and a fielder’s choice.

“Hallmark did a great job of making pitches and changing speeds,” said Herrera, who completed five innings, allowed four runs and struck out four on 84 pitches. “We just have to do better hitting the ball.”

The Bronchos continue their season hosting crosstown rival Permian at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“We understand that Permian is going to come and make us earn it,” Hulin said. “It didn’t matter if we were 3-0 or 2-1 (in the district), it wasn’t going to change that Tuesday is going to be a very competitive game and we are really looking forward to it.”

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