Grapeland Downs Leon in Final At-Bat
By Will Johnson
MADISONVILLE – At the start of their final at-bat, the Grapeland Sandies trailed the Leon Cougars by four runs. Remarkably, they had sliced a four run-deficit down to one after Blake Howard scored on an error. Now, however, the Sandies were down to their final out.
Cooper Ward was on third and Jonathan Luce was at second when Justin Bobbitt settled into the batter’s box. Bobbitt watched as Leon Cougar pitcher Cameron Aldridge threw him three pitches out of the strike zone.
Like any good hitter with a 3-0 count, Bobbitt took the next pitch. It was a strike right down the middle. On the next pitch, he barely got a piece of it and fouled it off. Now, with a full count, Bobbitt knew the payoff pitch was coming.
The chants of “base hit, ball four” echoed in the Grapeland dugout as Aldridge began his delivery from the stretch. Bobbitt knew the pitcher would probably come after him with a heater and when he did, Bobbitt was ready.
Both Ward and Luce were off on the pitch as Bobbitt hit a shot towards short. The ball was just out of the shortstop’s reach as Ward crossed the plate, with Luce hot on his heels. As Bobbitt reached first, the Sandies came spilling out of the dugout to celebrate Grapeland’s 10-9 come-from-behind win.
This was the second time in a week the Sandies’ had come back to win in their final at-bat. Grapeland had battled back to take the Centerville Tigers, 13-11, in a must-win game. Had they lost that game, Grapeland would have been on the outside of the postseason, looking in.
Their win over Centerville on Tuesday, April 23 coupled with a 10-0 shellacking of North Zulch on Friday, April 26, meant Grapeland, Leon and Normangee were all tied for third place in District 21-2A. That meant there would be a three-way playoff on Saturday to decide who would enter the playoffs as the third seed, who would enter as the fourth seed and who would be the odd man out.
Earlier in the day, the Cougars had used a little magic of their own as they came from behind to nip the Panthers. Leon trailed Normangee by a score of 2-1 entering the bottom of the seventh. Leon was also down to its final out when Jacob Robinson lined a triple into right field to score both Cole Ware and Ryan Ahearn, giving the Cougars the 3-2 win. The win also knocked Normangee out of the playoffs.
Maybe Normangee put a hex on Leon, maybe not. Either way, the Cougars got a taste of their own medicine during their second game of the day.
The Sandies, just an out away from missing the playoffs earlier this week, will now enter the postseason as the third seed from District 21-2A and will play the Alto Yellow Jackets. The Sandies and Yellow Jackets are tentatively scheduled best of three series with a double header on Friday, May 3 in Westwood. The first pitch will be at 5 pm and the second game will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. If necessary, Game Three will be played on Saturday, May 4 starting at 11 am, also in Westwood.
Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.