Sandies Avenge Early Season Loss

Grapeland Defeats Normangee, 6-1

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

NORMANGEE – The Grapeland Sandies won a huge road game on Friday, March 29 as they picked up a 6-1 win over the Normangee Panthers.

The win keeps the Sandies in second place in District 21-2A – just a game behind the Centerville Tigers – as the district season nears the midway point. It also avenges a 13-12 loss in Grapeland’s second game of the season.

Bubba Mayes was on the mound for the Panthers as the game got underway. He worked a fairly easy inning as he gave up a single to Ackley to lead off the contest. He then retired the next three batters he faced – Justin Bobbitt, Austin Driskell and Gavin French – to end the Grapeland half of the inning.

Austin Driskell got the nod for Grapeland and he was just as effective as Mays was in the first inning. He faced three batters – Blain McKenzie, Mason Hardy and Logan Andrews – and got all three to ground into 6-3 forces to send the game into the second inning.

Following a quiet second from both teams, Grapeland erupted for four runs in the top of the third. Ackley led off, was hit by a pitch and then stole second. Bobbitt followed with a walk but Driskell followed with a pop-up to second. French would also draw a walk to load the bases.

Blake Howard was up next and he singled up the middle to drive in Ackley from third and Bobbitt from second.

With Howard at first and French on second, Cameron Navarette was hit by a pitch to re-load the bases. Cooper Sheridan followed in the order and lofted a high fly ball to center which allowed French to tag up at third and scamper home to put the Sandies up 3-0.

Lane Dreher was up next and he slapped a shot that was booted for an error. The error gave Howard the chance he needed to cross the plate and just like that, Grapeland had increased their lead to 4-0. Colten Franklin followed in the batting order but grounded out to second to end the Grapeland half of the third inning.

The Panthers got one back in the bottom of the inning. After retiring the first two batters he faced – Denton Young and McKenzie – Driskell gave up back-to-back singles to Hardy and Andrews. Thomas Ray came in as a courtesy runner for Hardy and after Driskell hit Powell with a pitch and walked Mayes, Ray trotted home to make the score 4-1.

That was all the offense Normangee could muster, however, as Driskell got Brady Harris to pop out in foul territory to end the third.

After no one scored in the fourth inning, the Sandies got a pair of insurance runs in the top of the fifth. French led off with a single past second base and came around to score when Howard ripped a double into centerfield.

Howard advanced to third on a wild pitch while Navarette walked to give the Sandies runners on the corners with no one out.

Sheridan was up next and delivered for the Sandies as he lined a shot into left which plated Howard and made the score 6-1.

Dreher followed in the order and hit into a 5-3 force, but did advance the runners. Franklin was hit by a pitch and that was all for Mayes. Powell came on in relief and managed to extricate the Panthers from another potential big inning as he struck out Ackley and Bobbitt to end the Sandies fifth inning.

The Sandies also made a pitching change in the fifth inning as Ackley moved to the mound. The move proved to be a good one as Ackley struck out Hardy, gave up a single to Andrews, forced Powell to hit into a fielder’s choice and then K’d Mayes to end the inning.

The Sandies were unable to generate any offense in the sixth inning and the Panthers followed suit. Ackley struck out Harris, hit Ty Aguirre with a pitch and then rang up both Jacob Schmidt and Young to end the frame and send the game to the seventh inning.

The Sandies were unable to do anything in the top half of the inning and despite getting two men aboard, Ackley struck out Mayes on a 2-2 fastball to end the game.

Driskell picked up the win in four innings of work. He gave up one run on four hits while he struck out three and walked one.

Mayes was saddled with the loss after he gave up four runs on two hits. He also struck out three and walked three.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

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