By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – The Grapeland Sandies picked up their second shutout win a row on Tuesday evening as Cooper Sheridan pitched seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball to help Grapeland pick up a 7-0 win.
The Sandies came into the game with an overall record of 6-1 and a district mark of 3-1 while the Mustangs are having a rough go of it this year and had a 0-6 record prior to Tuesday nights’ contest.
Cooper Sheridan got the start for Grapeland and after a lead off single to open the game from Luke Gibson, Sheridan was lights out the rest of the way.
The Grapeland senior struck out the next two batters he faced – Julian Young and Lincoln Smith – before getting Jacob Nugent to ground into a 6-3 force to end the top half of the first inning.
Gibson was on the bump for the Mustangs and he was equally as effective as Sheridan in the opening frame. He caught Cole Goolsby looking at strike three and then got both Cameron Navarette, along with Sheridan, to swing and miss strike three to end the inning.
In the second, Sheridan simply overpowered the Slocum lineup as he struck out the side on 12 pitches. All three batters Sheridan faced – Jacob Easley, Zack Coble and Jose Molina – were caught looking as strike three sailed by.
Grapeland broke the ice with two runs in the bottom of the second. Jayce Elliott reached first on an error and moved to second on a Jason DeCluette groundout. He took third on a wild pitch as Peyton Prater walked to give the Sandies runners at the corners with only one out.
Another wild pitch brought home Elliott and moved Prater to third on the play. Jax Vickers was in the batter’s box when Elliott scored and worked his at-bat to a full count. With Prater at third, Vickers turned on a pitch and drove it into left field, bringing Prater across the plate.
That was all the Sandies could squeeze out of the inning as Gibson was able to wiggle off the hook, trailing 2-0.
Sheridan continued his dominance of the Slocum lineup as he struck out Ronnie Bynum swinging and Cade Peters looking on a total of six pitches. The third batter of the inning was Gibson and he flew out to right to retire the side in order.
Slocum made a pitching change in the top of the third as Nugent came on in relief. Nugent forced Navarette to pop up right and got Sheridan to fly out to center. Elliott picked up his second hit of the game with a liner to left, but first base was as far as he got as DeCluette popped up to third to bring the inning to a close with the Sandies holding on to a 2-0 lead.
As the game moved into the fourth inning, Sheridan showed no signs of wearing down. He got Young to chase after strike three for the first out and then plunked Smith, sending him to first. That was as far as he would get, however, as Sheridan struck out Nugent and Easley to end the Mustangs’ half of the fourth.
In the bottom of the inning, Grapeland plated five runs. Prater led off with a shot to right, stole second and moved to third when Vickers reached on an error. A double steal saw Prater cross the plate to make the score 3-0 while Vickers slid safely into second.
A pop up to short held Vickers at second, but when Slade Harris stepped into the batter’s box, Vickers swiped third. Nugent hit Harris with a pitch and also drilled Goolsby to load the bases. A walk to Navarette pushed Vickers across the plate. Sheridan hit into a fielder’s choice which plated Harris and extended the Grapeland lead to 5-0.
Elliott was next in the batting order and laced a single into centerfield to score both Navarette and Sheridan, making the score 7-0.
As the game moved into the fifth inning, Sheridan seemed to be getting stronger. He got a one-pitch out from Coble and then caught Molina looking at strike three. Bynum was up next and popped out to Goolsby behind the plate to bring the Sandies in from the field.
The Sandies threatened in their half of the inning but Nugent was able to dance out of trouble when Goolsby flew out to center.
Sheridan also ran into trouble the next time he took the mound. He walked Colton Wilson and then gave up a double to Gibson, sending Wilson to third. Young was up next and hit the ball right back to Sheridan who fired home to Goolsby who applied the tag to Wilson as he tried to score.
A walk to Smith loaded the bases, but Sheridan worked his way out of a jam to strike out both Nugent and Easley to retire the side.
The Sandies were unable to muster any offense in the bottom of the sixth and moved to the top of the seventh inning with a 7-0 lead. Grapeland sent Sheridan back to the mound to see if he could close out the game and the senior responded as he struck out the side to help give the Sandies the 7-0 win.
Sheridan went the distance for the Sandies as he pitched a complete game shutout. He gave up two hits, struck out 16 and walked two.
At the plate, Jayce Elliott led the way as he was 2-4 with a run scored and two RBI.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.