Grapeland Tops Centerville in Extras, 13-11
By Will Johnson
CENTERVILLE – The Grapeland Sandies are still alive in the race for the postseason after their stirring, come-from behind, 13-11 win over the Centerville Tigers.
Grapeland overcame a six-run first inning deficit and took the lead in the top of sixth, only to see saw Centerville tie the score in the bottom of the seventh. It finally took a 3-run HR in the top of the ninth to give the Sandies the win and keep their quest for the playoffs alive.
Mikey Rojas got the start for the Tigers and gave up a lead-off single to Justin Bobbitt. Austin Driskell followed in the order and during his at-bat, a pick-off attempt at first went awry. Bobbitt managed to work his way to third on the play while Driskell struck out looking on the next pitch.
Josh Ackley was up next and lofted a fly ball to right, deep enough to allow Bobbitt time to tag-up and scamper home with the game’s first run. Grapeland first baseman Blake Howard followed Ackley in the order and lined out to the shortstop position, but the Sandies had drawn first blood as they took the field with a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately for Grapeland, the lead didn’t last very long as Centerville plated seven runs in the bottom of the inning.
Bobbitt was on the mound for the Sandies and walked his pitching counterpart – Rojas – on four straight pitches. Dillon Denman was plunked by Bobbitt which pushed Rojas to second. Cade Beshears was up next and popped up to right, allowing Rojas to tag-up and move to third.
The Tigers’ clean-up hitter was Colton Adams but Adams was also hit by a pitch as Bobbitt now faced a one-out bases loaded situation.
An error allowed Rojas to cross the plate with the tying run while James Bodine reached on the play. A single from Skylar Avant drove in both Denman and Adams to make the score 3-1. Tanner Smoldas was up next and bunted his way to first which reloaded the bases.
An error on the play allowed Bodine to race home while the base runners moved up a bag. Bobbitt continued to struggle with his control and hit Sully Hill to juice the bags once again.
A sacrifice from Kasen Jeitz brought in Avant while a double from Rojas drove in Smoldas and Hill to make the score 7-1. Bobbitt finally managed to get out of the inning when Denman grounded out to short.
Rather than packing it in, the Sandies put in some work when they came to bat in the top of the second. Cooper Sheridan led things off with a base knock to left. The other Cooper on the roster – Cooper Ward – flew out to center, but Gavin French drew a walk.
While Rojas retired Lane Dreher on a swinging strikeout, Jonathan Luce slapped a pitch up the middle to drive in Sheridan and advance French to third. Bobbitt followed with a single to drive in French while Luce moved to second.
Driskell was up next and rapped a ball down the third baseline that was booted for an error. The miscue allowed Luce time to motor around the bases and cross the dish to make the score 7-4.
Ackley drew a walk to load the bases for the Sandies, but when Howard came to bat, he just missed a pitch and flew out to center.
The Sandies made a change on the mound to start the bottom of the second and brought in Driskell to relieve Bobbitt. The move seemed to pay off as Driskell retired the first two batters he faced. Bodine got to Driskell for a double but Bodine grounded into a 5-3 force to end the inning.
The third and fourth innings were fairly quiet as neither team was able to get a runner past the bag at first. In the bottom of the fifth inning, however, the Tigers padded their lead by one.
Driskell was still on the mound and gave up a single to Adams who promptly stole second. Bodine struck out and when Avant came to bat, a wild pitch advanced Adams to third. Avant singled up the middle which drove in Adams to make the score 8-4.
Driskell shook off the run and got Smoldas on a sacrifice while he caught Hill looking at strike three to end the inning.
While the first inning belonged to Centerville, the sixth inning belonged to Grapeland. Down by four to start the inning, the Sandies crossed the plate a half dozen times to retake the lead, 10-8.
Rojas was relieved on the bump to start the inning as Adams took over the pitching duties. He walked French but struck out Dreher. Luce reached on an error while Bobbitt walked to load the bases.
Driskell was up next and helped his own cause with a single to drive in French. Ackley followed with a double to plate both Luce and Bobbitt which now made the score, 8-7.
Driskell moved to third on the play and crossed the plate when Howard grounded into a 4-3 force. Ackley moved up a base on Howard’s groundout. Sheridan drew a walk to put runners at the corners with two outs.
Ward came through with a single to drive in Ackley and Grapeland had taken 9-8 lead. A double steal moved Sheridan to third and War to second. A miscue on the play allowed Sheridan to cross the dish which made the score 10-8.
After Dreher struck out, Driskell was back on the mound. He caught Jeitz trying to bunt his way to first, but then walked Rojas. That was as far as he would get, however, as Driskell popped up Denman and struck out Beshears to end the inning.
The Sandies threatened in their half of the seventh, but couldn’t take advantage of it. That left the door open for Centerville and they seized the opportunity.
With Driskell still on the mound, Adams ripped a double into the gap in left. Bodine was hit by a pitch and forced Adams to move to second.
A strikeout of Avant brought Smoldas to the plate. On a 1-0 count, Driskell let one get away from him, advancing the baserunners. Evan Neubauer came in to run for Bodine and when Smoldas laced a single into center, both Adams and Neubauer crossed the plate to tie the game at 10.
Driskell shook it off and retired Hill on a groundout and caught Jeitz watching as strike three whizzed by to send the game into the eighth inning.
Both teams threatened in the eight, but couldn’t get a man past second. The ninth inning was a different story, however.
Bobbitt led off the inning and drew a walk. Driskell was up next and reached on error when the ball was booted.
With Bobbitt at second and Driskell at first, Ackley settled into the batters’ box. After falling behind 0-2 in the count, the senior battled his way back to a full count.
On a 3-2 pitch, Ackley unloaded and hit a rocket over the fence in left field for a three-run blast to make the score 13-10. That was it for Adams as he was yanked. Adams took his place on the Centerville mound and got both Howard, as well as Sheridan, to ground out and end the top of the inning.
Ackley came on in relief of Driskell and while he gave up a run, he held the Tigers at bay as the Sandies won the game by a final score of 13-11.
Driskell picked up the win with seven innings of work. He allowed three runs on five hits, struck out seven and walked two. Ackley picked up the save as he held the Tigers to one run on one hit, with one K and two walks.
Adams was tagged with the loss after working three innings. He yielded nine runs on five hits, walked eight and struck out six. The win keeps Grapeland alive for the final playoff spot out of District 21-2A. The Sandies are tied with the Normangee Panthers with identical 10-5 district records.
Grapeland played North Zulch at home on Friday, April 26 while Normangee hosted the Latexo Tigers. As of press time, however, the scores were unavailable.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.