BURKBURNETT, TX (KAUZ) - For the first time in a decade, the Burkburnett Bulldogs won a baseball playoff series this past weekend.
It comes in their first year under long-time Rider coach Scot Green.
For some Burkburnett players, when they heard the 2011 State champion was their new coach, they instantly knew what to expect.
"I thought it was going to be great for us," said junior outfielder and pitcher Gentry Mullins. "I know his history and I knew he'd help out our program to do well."
Not everyone was familiar with his resume, though. Senior catcher Wyatt Grant admitted he hadn't heard of coach Green before he was hired.
"I looked it up and I heard he had won a state championship," Grant said. "And I was like, 'Well, I mean if we had to get a new coach...' I was kinda happy to get him."
"We just wanted to help develop a culture," said Green, who also brought with him former WFHS head coach Cole Woodward. "You know, we have a way of doing things, or I have a way of doing things, that I've been doing for 20-plus years."
"He's got a lot of baseball knowledge," Mullins said. "You can tell just when he's talking to you that he's real baseball-smart. And I think he's helped a lot of kids individually with what they need, making [us] overall a better team."
With a mix of veterans and younger talent, the Bulldogs knew they had to pull together, and they seem to be doing just that.
"I feel like the team chemistry," Jacob Acheson said of the team's best attribute. "A lot of guys were brought up from the JV area, came over here, and I feel like the team chemistry keeps building."
So far, that chemistry has led the Bulldogs to their first playoff series win since 2008, and as a bonus they knocked out the Sweetwater team who eliminated them a year ago.
"You know it means a lot to me," Mullins said. "I was there last year and was there when we lost, so it was real nice to get the win. A little bit of revenge, I guess you could say."
"I was just happy to get my first playoff win off of my back," Grant said. "Especially in my senior year."
This year's series went to a decisive third game Friday night, but Burkburnett had their ace in the hole, Jacob Acheson.
"It seemed like he just had that confidence on the mound, and it really resonated with us," Grant said. "And we were just confident the entire game that we were going to win."
"Anybody I've ever been around, every competitor I've ever been around, wants the ball," said coach Green. "And it doesn't matter the situation, doesn't matter the importance of the situation, or if the big lights are on and all the cameras are on, those guys who want the ball want the ball. And [Acheson] wanted the ball."
Now they have a tough series coming up against former Archer City coach Pat Maxwell and his 3rd-ranked, 23-1 Godley Wildcats. They know it'll be tough, but it's also an opportunity.
"We have nothing to lose," Grant said. "They have everything to lose, I guess. So it's like we're just going to go out and play as hard as we can."
"We want these young kids to have a taste of, 'Hey this is what it's going to take for us to be considered with the Godleys and the Iowa Parks,'" said coach Green. "And it's a long ways away, but we're getting there."
Burkburnett and Godley will play their series in Henrietta with a doubleheader Friday starting at 4 p.m. and the if-necessary Game 3 on Saturday at noon.