Slocum Downs Lovelady, 8-4
By Will Johnson
LOVELADY – It has been said all good things must come to an end and on Tuesday night, the Lovelady Lions fell victim to that old saying.
Lovelady had not lost a district baseball game since May of 2015, but earlier this week, that streak was snapped as the Slocum Mustangs travelled to the home of the Lions and galloped out of town with an 8-4 win.
The Mustangs jumped out to an early lead and never trailed in the ballgame. Carter Murray was on the hill for the Lions and struggled with his control early on.
He hit Slocum’s lead-off batter Taylor Hunt, but Hunt was forced out at second on a Joe Byrnes grounder. Murray then hit Colton Peters, gave up a single to Austin Sarraf and then clipped Taylor Lomax on a 1-0 pitch to push Byrnes across the plate.
Slocum’s Dustin Fletcher was up next and drew a walk off of Murray to plate Peters which made the score 2-0.
Following the walk, Murray regrouped to get Randy Guess on a swinging strike three and then caught Ben Haney looking at a fastball that nipped the corner to end the Slocum half of the first inning.
Hunt was on the mound for the Mustangs and plunked Chad Fulgham with his second pitch. After that, Hunt retired the next three batters to end the frame and send the game into the second inning.
The second, third and fourth innings were relatively quiet as neither team could generate any offense. Both Lovelady – in the bottom of the third – and Slocum – in the top of the fourth – threatened but could not get runners home from third.
That was not the case in the fifth inning when Slocum tacked on three runs to extend their lead to 5-0. Jay Thomas Robinson relieved Murray on the mound and it was like déjà vu all over again. Robinson hit the first batter (Peters) he faced, gave up a single to Sarraf and then hit Lomax to load the bases.
Fletcher was up next and roped a double into right field to drive in Peters from third and Sarraf from second, while Lomax took third on the play.
With Lomax at third and Peters at second, Robinson walked Guess to load the bases but seemingly settled down to strike out Haney and Alex Abernathy for the first two outs. However, Robinson walked Hunt on four straight pitches to send Lomax across the plate and make the score 5-0.
The Lions managed to cut into Slocum’s lead in the bottom of the fifth when Jaxson Reeves reached on an error. Reeves was caught stealing on the next pitch but Lane Kellar singled up the middle to replace the baserunner.
Kellar wasn’t at first very long as Fulgham ripped a triple to deep left center field to plate Kellar and give the Lions their first run of the game.
On the following at-bat, Robinson hit a pitch back to the mound. Hunt dove to his left to field the ball, snagged it and threw home to catch Fulgham on questionable call at the plate. On the play, however, Hunt appeared to injure himself and had to leave the game.
Sarraf came on in relief and after two Lions reached base, Sarraf fielded a come backer to the mound to end the inning with Slocum up 5-1.
The sixth inning saw the Mustangs get the run back to go up 6-1, but the Lions also added a run to their total to make the score 6-2. Both teams added two to their tallies in the seventh to bring the final score to 8-4 in favor of Slocum.
Hunt was credited with the win after he went 4.2 innings, giving up one run on three hits and striking out six. Robinson took the loss for Lovelady in 1.2 innings of work. He gave up four runs on three hits, struck out two and walked three.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.