Grapeland Pulls it Out in Seventh Inning
By Will Johnson
SLOCUM – The Grapeland Sandies were down to their final out in the final at-bat. Trailing 2-0 at the start of the seventh inning, back-to-back singles from Blake Howard and Cooper Sheridan gave the Sandies hope.
A fielder’s choice at third and a strike out, however, put Grapeland on the edge of a loss to the 2018 Class 1A State Champion Slocum Mustangs.
Surprisingly – given their pedigree – the Mustangs blinked. Slocum went to the bullpen and brought Andrew Abernathy in to relieve Austin Sarraf.
The first batter Abernathy faced was Grapeland’s Cameron Navarette. On a 1-0 count, Navarette was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
With Howard now at third and Sheridan at second, Jason Bobbitt hit a shot up the middle to plate both Howard, as well as Sheridan to knot things up at two. On the play, Navarette took third.
Two pitches later, Navarette crossed the plate when Abernathy began to get wild. Ja. Bobbitt moved to second and then back-to-back walks to Josh Ackley and Justin Bobbitt re-loaded the bases.
The Sandies now led 3-2 and Austin Driskell gave Grapeland a pair of insurance runs when he ripped a shot into centerfield to drive in Ja. Bobbitt, along with Ackley, to make the score 5-2. Ju. Bobbitt took third on the throw home.
Abernathy finally managed to get out of the inning when he struck out Gavin French on a full count.
The game wasn’t over, however. The Mustangs had one last at-bat and they certainly tried to make the most of it. Ackley replaced Driskell on the mound and initially he struggled with his control.
Ackley walked Abernathy and then yielded a single to Sarraf. Next, Ackley hit Mateo Rodriguez with a pitch to load the bases with no outs.
Fortunately, Ackley was able to shake the rust off and retired Lincoln Smith on a foul tip. With the bases still loaded and now one out, Abernathy forced the issue and stole home to make the score 5-3. Sarraf and Rodriguez moved up a base on the play.
Not even a week removed from the Class 2A Region III Tournament Finals, Ackley composed himself and got Josh Ives swinging at strike three. Blake Watkins was up next and met the same fate as Ives when he was caught looking at strike three to end the game and give the Sandies a 5-3 come-from-behind win in District 21-2A.
Ackley picked up the win in relief with one inning of work. He gave up one hit, one run, struck out three and walked one.
Abernathy took the loss with one-third of an inning pitched. He gave up two hits, three runs, struck out one and walked two.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.