Lions Win in Walk-off Fashion
By Will Johnson
LOVELADY – It’s getting down to crunch time in District 21-2A for a few teams. The Centerville Tigers were leading the pack with a 10-1 district record when they traveled to Lovelady on Friday afternoon, April 12.
The Lions were a game back in the standings and hoped to slide into a tie for first by the end of the baseball contest. While it didn’t take a slide to win, it did take a dramatic, walk-off single from Chad Fulgham to give the Lions a 2-1 win which knotted things up atop the district.
The game was a pitcher’s duel throughout. Jay Thomas Robinson was on the hill for the Lions and retired the Tiger’s in order in the top of the first.
Cade Beshears got the nod for Centerville and looked a little shaky in the first inning. He opened with a three-pitch strikeout of Robinson, but followed that with a walk to Logan Lowery.
Chad Fulgham was in the three hole and lined a double into left which drove in Lowery to make the score 1-0.
Carter Murray was up next and he was hit by a Beshears pitch to give the Lions runners at first and second with only one out. Unfortunately for Lovelady, the Lions’ threat came to an end when Timothy Johnson lined into an inning-ending double play.
Robinson was on top of his game in the second as he needed only 13 pitches to retire the side. He got Colton Adams to ground back to the mound, struck out James Bodine and forced Skylar Avant to fly out to right to end the inning.
Beshears had settled down – for the most part – when he took the mound in the second. He got Jaxson Reeves to ground out but then hit Lane Kellar on a 2-0 pitch.
Kellar stole second, but Seth Murray K’d for the second out. Slade Murray was up next and reached on an error but Kellar was gunned down at home while trying to stretch the miscue into a run.
With the score still 1-0, Beshears was relieved by Adams to start the bottom of the fifth inning. The first batter Adams faced was Lowery who flew out to center for the first out. Fulgham was up next and drew a walk.
Fulgham stole second, while C. Murray walked to put runners at first and second with only one away. Johnson struck out swinging, but the Lions executed a double steal to move Fulgham to third and C. Murray to second.
Reeves was up next but on a full count, Adams tagged him with a pitch and Reeves moved to first to load the bases. Unfortunately for the Lions, Adams struck out Kellar on three consecutive pitches to end the fifth inning
When the Tigers came to bat in the top of the sixth, they were able to tie things up. Sully Hill led off with a single for Centerville and was replaced at first by a courtesy runner – Alan Skipworth – who promptly stole second.
Kasen Jeitz was called out on a foul tip and Mikey Rojas grounded out but moved Skipworth to third. Dillon Denman was up next and drew a walk to put runners on the corners with two down.
Beshears followed in the batting order and slapped a single down the left field line. Skipworth scored on the hit, but Denman was called out at third when he tried to take an extra base. The Tigers, however, had tied the score at one as the game moved to the bottom of the sixth.
Adams held the Lions at bay in the sixth as he struck out Seth Murray and then doubled up Slade Murray – who reached on an error – when Robinson flew out to short centerfield.
The Lions made a change on the hill and brought in C. Murray to start the seventh inning. Murray got both Adams and Bodine to ground out but he yielded a hit to Avant. The hit turned out to be useless as Murray got Tanner Smoldas to swing at strike three to end the Centerville half of the seventh.
Lowery led off the bottom of the seventh for Lovelady and smacked a double into left field. Fulgham was up next – and on a 0-2 pitch – Fulgham looped a single into right. Lowery was running on the play and easily crossed the plate to give the Lions a 2-1 win.
C. Murray picked up the win in relief with an inning of work where he yielded a hit and recorded a strikeout.
Adams took the loss in two innings of relief. He gave up one run on two hits, struck out three and walked two.
The win moves Lovelady into a first place tie with Centerville. It also brings Grapeland, Leon and Normangee back into contention for the district crown as they now sit two games behind the leaders. All three teams have 8-4 district records with four games remaining.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.