Grapeland Slips by Slocum, 3-2
By Will Johnson
SLOCUM – The Grapeland Sandies travelled to Slocum on Tuesday afternoon for a District 21-2A baseball game and slipped out of the Mustangs’ corral with a 3-2 win.
The game was tight throughout as both teams showcased their pitchers. Colton Peters got the start for the Mustangs while Austin Driskell got the nod for the Sandies.
Driskell led off the game for Grapeland with a single and managed to work his way to third after Cameron Navarette struck out swinging and Case Boyd grounded into a 1-3 force. Josh Ackley drew a walk off of Peters to put runners at the corners with two outs, but Driskell wandered a little too far off of the bag and was picked off by Slocum catcher Andrew Abernathy to end the Grapeland half of the first.
The Mustangs also managed to put their lead-off batter on base after Taylor Hunt was plunked by a 2-2 Driskell pitch. Hunt stole second, but that was as far as he would get as Driskell retired the next three batters he faced to send the game into the second inning.
Peters found himself in a bit of a jam in the top of the second as he gave up back-to-back hits to Ethan Peterson and Blake Howard. Just like his counterpart the inning before, Peters managed to retire the next three batters to keep the Sandies off the board and keep the score knotted at 0-0.
Slocum broke through with a run in the bottom of the inning. Taylor Lomax doubled into center to lead things off for the Mustangs and took third on an error. Dustin Fletcher was up next and when his fly ball was misplayed in the outfield, Lomax scampered home with the game’s first run.
Following a fly ball out to center from Randy Guess, Ben Haney came to the plate and hit a liner to Boyd at second. Boyd snagged the ball, caught Fletcher leaning the wrong way off of first and threw to Howard to complete a double play and end the inning.
After a quiet third, the Sandies tied things up in the top of the fourth. Ackley led off for Grapeland and reached base on an outfield error. He moved to second when Abernathy let a pitch get by him. When Peterson lifted a fly ball into right, Ackley tagged up and advanced to third.
BJ Lamb was up next and came through with a fly ball to right which was deep enough to allow Ackley to tag up once again and motor home with the tying run.
After Rick Frauenberger grounded out to end the inning, Driskell was back on the mound in the bottom of the fourth and mowed down the Mustang batters in order to move the game to the fifth inning.
Cooper Sheridan led off the top of the fifth for Grapeland and reached base on a single up the middle. Before the first pitch to the next batter, however, Peters wheeled around and caught Sheridan napping at first to erase him from the base paths.
A one-out walk to Franco Rea was followed by a pop-up from Driskell for out number two. Navarette was up next and hit a shot to Peters on the mound. Peters was unable to field the ball and as a result the fleet-footed Rea was able to take third.
Rea’s hustle paid off when Boyd lined the next Peters’ pitch into center field to drive in Rea and give the Sandies a 2-1 lead.
The score remained that way until the top of the seventh when the Sandies added an insurance run to make the score 3-1.
Driskell walked to lead off the inning and moved to second on Navarette’s grounder through the right side of the infield. Boyd was next to bat but hit into a fielder’s choice. An error on the play allowed Driskell to motor around the bases and cross the plate to give Grapeland a small cushion to work with.
The Sandies would need it. Lomax relieved Peters on the mound for Slocum and retired the next two batters he faced to send the game into the bottom of the seventh.
Fletcher opened the seventh with a walk for the Mustangs. After Driskell struck out Guess on a called third strike, an error on Ben Haney’s grounder moved Fletcher to third and Haney to second with one out.
Abernathy was up next for Slocum and hit a grounder to Howard at first. Howard stepped on the bag for the second out but on the play, Fletcher crossed the dish to make the score 3-2 while Haney moved to third.
With one out remaining and the tying run at third, Driskell dug deep and managed to get Hunt to pop up to center for the third out and hand the Sandies the 3-2 win.
Peters took the loss for the Mustangs in six innings of work. He gave up 3 runs (all unearned) on seven hits to go along with four Ks and five walks.
Driskell picked up the win for the Sandies as he went the distance and gave up two unearned run on two hits. He also had one strikeout and two walks.
Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.