From the moment he began his pregame routine, everything felt right to Ryan Chain. Still, the Beekman right-hander had no idea he was about to pitch the game of his life.
With Chain handcuffing Delhi Charter for a six-hit shutout, the Tigers clinched their District 2-2A-opening three-game series with a 3-0 victory Thursday afternoon. Beekman won Tuesday's series opener 8-5 Tuesday in Delhi. Due to the threat of rain Saturday, the series finale has been rescheduled for 4 p.m. Friday in the Gators' home park.
Ryan Chain started Thursday's game with his only 1-2-3 inning.
Beekman went up 1-0 in its half of the first when Brock Jenkins beat the throw to first for a one-out infield single, stole his way to the next two stations and darted home on a wild pitch.
Ryan Chain bent but never broke over the final six innings as the Gators stranded 10 base runners.
"I wasn't thinking about pitching a shutout, but I felt good warming up," Ryan Chain said. "I had confidence in my defense. This was my best game. Everything was working."
"His 12-6 curveball was working the whole game," said Beekman first baseman Seth Meyers as he walked past the postgame interview. "That's the best I've ever seen his curve."
Ryan Chain worked his way out of trouble in the second and third.
Hayden Arledge reached on a booted ground ball and Ryan Chain hit Reid Arledge with a 2-2 curveball to start the second. Trenton Jinks bunted the runners over before the Tigers got out of the inning with a popup to shortstop Seth Sharp and the second of Ryan Chain's three punchouts.
DCS loaded the bases with two outs in the third on Logan LaBorde's infield single, a walk to Cayden Martin and Hayden Arledge's base hit to left before third baseman Brayden Spigner handled an inning-ending ground ball.
Beekman doubled its lead in the fourth on back-to-back, two-out two-baggers by Meyers and Spigner.
Dawson Moore found the left-center gap for a leadoff double in the fifth, hopped over to third on Wesley Priestly's perfectly-placed bunt single down the third base line and scored on Joey Chain's RBI groundout to give the Tigers a 3-0 cushion.
DCS threatened again in the sixth. Rhett Murphrey and McKinley Dorsey connected for consecutive one-out singles and Cameron McDaniels advanced the runners with a groundout to second baseman Joey Chain. However, Ryan Chain kept the shutout intact with an inning-ending strikeout.
LaBorde led off the Gators' seventh with a base hit to center, but Ryan Chain quickly sealed the shutout. Center fielder Ethan Rigmaiden took care of a fly ball for the first out before Ryan Chain fielded a ground ball back to the mound and threw to Joey Chain to start a game-ending 1-4-3 double play.
Beekman (11-4, 2-0) is quietly off to its best start in school annals.
"I don't know what it is, but we have been playing good ball this year," Ryan Chain said. "The softball team went to Sulphur a couple of years ago, but Beekman isn't known for athletics."
Ryan Chain, the team's only senior, is ready to be part of the change.
"This is a chance for us to get some respect," Ryan Chain said. "Beekman baseball should be good for years to come. We have some good talent coming up. My brother (Joey) is a freshman, but this is my last chance. We're trying to win district this year. Winning the first two games of this series is a good way to start."
Ryan Chain held the Gators to six singles. He struck out three, walked two and got a dozen outs off of ground balls.
DC righty Jake Hale also turned in a solid outing, allowing three earned runs on six hits while striking out two and walking none.
"Jake pitched a good game, too," Ryan Chain said of his counterpart.
Meyers, Spigner and Moore doubled, and Jenkins, Ryan Chain and Priestly singled for the Tigers.
LaBorde stroked two singles and Chad Clark, Hayden Arledge, Murphrey and Dorsey supplied base hits for the Gators (6-10, 2-3).
NOTES: The fast-paced game took only one-hour, 29-minutes to play. ... Beekman assistant coach Christian Kidd rejoined the Tigers on Thursday after missing the season opener for medical purposes. ... Delhi center fielder Chad Clark is the son of former Bastrop High basketball standout Chadwick Clark. The elder Clark is the Gators' athletic director and head boys basketball coach.
FAREWELL: For what it's worth, Ryan Chain is the final person to be interviewed by the Bastrop Enterprise (this story appears exclusively online). Thursday's game marks the end of the Enterprise's coverage of Morehouse Parish (news or sports). Friday's final edition of the Enterprise is currently on sale. Barring any 11th-hour developments, the Enterprise will cease operations after 100-plus years today. ... Thanks for the memories!