Grapeland only Musters Two Hits
By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – Heading into Friday’s game against the Leon Cougars, the Grapeland Sandies sat in a three way tie for third-place with Leon and the Normangee Panthers. Centerville and Lovelady appear to have the top two spots locked up so a loss would seriously damage the playoff chances for any of the three third place teams.
On Friday, the Sandies received both good and bad news. The good news was Normangee fell to Lovelady, 16-4. The bad news was Grapeland fell to Leon, 4-0. While the loss stings, the Sandies are still alive for a playoff spot as they sit in a tie with Normangee for the final postseason berth.
Justin Bobbitt got the start for Grapeland and struggled early on with his control. Leon’s Cameron Aldridge led off the game with a walk and took second on a sacrifice from teammate Stran Copeland. A single by Cole Ware pushed Aldridge across the plate and gave the Cougars an early 1-0 lead.
Bobbitt re-established his control after the run and struck out both Ryan Ahearn along with Peyton Pruett to end the Leon at-bat.
Ware was on the hill for the Cougars and picked up two quick outs as he got Josh Ackley to ground into a 6-3 force and then caught Bobbitt swinging at strike three.
An error at third allowed Austin Driskell to reach first but he was stranded there when Blake Howard struck out to end the inning.
Jacob Robinson led off the top of the second with a single for Leon but he was unable to advance as Bobbitt struck out both Dustin Watson and Keeton Caveness. Brock Beamer followed in the lineup and while he made contact, he hit it right to Driskell at short who threw to Howard at first for the third out.
When Grapeland came to bat in the second, the Sandies mounted an offensive threat. Ware caught Cameron Navarette swinging at a pitch outside of the strike zone for the first out but followed up with a walk to Gavin French.
French took second on an error and moved to third when Cooper Sheridan grounded out. That was as close as Grapeland would get, however, as Cooper Ward grounded out to second to end the inning.
The third inning saw Bobbitt work his way into and out of trouble while keeping the Cougars off the board. Aldridge led off the top of the inning with a single and worked his way to third on a bunt single from Copeland.
Ware was up next and flew out to shallow center which held the runners in place. Ahearn followed Ware to the plate and tried to bunt his way aboard. Bobbitt fielded the ball cleanly, flipped it to Sheridan and Sheridan applied the tag to Aldridge on a bang-bang play at the plate.
Copeland took second on the play and Ahearn made it to first, but now the Sandies were in a position to escape the inning without any damage.
Pruett was up next and reached on an infield single, but Robinson popped up to right where Jonathan Luce made a running catch to end the inning and keep the score at 1-0.
It seemed as if Luce’s catch had shifted the momentum over to the Grapeland dugout but unfortunately, it didn’t last long. Colten Franklin struck out while Ackley followed with a line drive to right. Ackley was stranded at the first base bag, however, when Bobbitt watched strike three sail by and Driskell hit into a 5-3 force to send the game into the fourth inning.
Watson led off the fourth and drew a walk from Bobbitt. After Caveness struck out, Watson moved to second on an infield single from Brock Beamer. A walk to Aldridge loaded the bases, while a passed ball brought Watson across the plate and advanced the runners.
Copeland followed with a single to center to drive in Beamer and advance Aldridge to third. A walk to Ware re-loaded the bases and when Ahearn hit into a fielder’s choice, Aldridge scampered home to make the score 4-0.
After Pruett grounded out to end the Leon half of the inning, Ware retired the Sandies in order to send the game into the fifth inning.
Bobbitt held the Cougars in check in the top of the frame and when Sheridan doubled to lead off the bottom of the fifth, it looked as if the Sandies might start a rally.
It was not meant to be, however, as Ware didn’t allow another hit as the Cougars went to defeat the Sandies by a final score of 4-0.
Bobbitt took the loss with five innings of work. He gave up four runs on eight hits with seven Ks and five walks. Driskell relieved him in the top of the sixth and worked two innings of no-hit ball, with one K and one walk.
Ware picked up the win with seven innings of work. He shut out the Sandies on two hits, struck out 12 and only walked one.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.