Grapeland Falls to Leon, 5-4
By Will Johnson
JEWETT – The Grapeland Sandies hit the road on Tuesday, April 6 as they traveled to Jewett for a District 21-2A match up with the Leon Cougars.
As the second half of league play is set to begin next week, the Sandies, Cougars and Normangee Panthers are locked in a battle for the third and fourth place playoff seedings.
With Grapeland entering the game with a 3-2 district mark and Leon sitting at 3-3, the stakes were a little higher than normal and both teams played like it. The Sandies struck first, but every time they would score, it seemed Leon would also plate a runner.
For most of the game, it seemed like the Sandies would sneak out of Jewett with the win, but a seventh inning rally came up just short as the Cougars held on for the 5-4 win.
Jacob Robinson got the start for the Cougars and stymied the Sandies in their first at-bat. He got Cole Goolsby to ground out to short and followed up with strikeouts of both Jayce Elliott and Cooper Sheridan to retire the side.
Sheridan was on the mound for Grapeland and he was equally as effective as he struck out the side. He got Stran Copeland swinging, caught Ethan Leggett looking and then came back to fan Logan Noey on a full-count to end the inning.
The second inning saw both teams put a runner on base but nothing came of it as the game moved into the third inning with the score 0-0.
In the third, Grapeland broke the ice with a run to take a 1-0 lead. Peyton Prater led off the inning with a single to right and moved to second when Slade Harris grounded out. Prater moved to third when Goolsby hit into a 4-3 force and came around to score when Elliott slapped a shot into center. That was all the Sandies could squeeze out the inning, however, as Sheridan struck out to send the Sandies out to the field.
The Cougars struck back in their half of the frame as they tied the game up. Sheridan rang up Brock Bumpers on three pitches but allowed a bunt single to Ryan Bacak. Jose Carrizales was up next and grounded out. Bacak moved to second on the play. A wild pitch moved him to third and when the Sandies committed an error on a Copeland grounder, Bacak trotted home with the tying run. The next batter was Leggett and for the second time in as many at-bats, Sheridan caught him looking at strike three.
Grapeland went in order in the top of the fourth while Leon plated two runs to take a 3-1 lead.
In the fifth, the Sandies struck back to cut the lead to one. Jax Vickers led off the inning and reached on an infield error. Prater was up next and hit into a fielder’s choice at second. He stole second, moved to third on a balk and when Robinson uncorked a wild pitch, Prater sprinted home to make the score 3-2.
After the two teams traded runs in the sixth, the Sandies found themselves down by a score of 5-3.
With one inning left to do something, Prater led off with a single and moved to second on a balk by Robinson. He stole third and when Bacak let a ball get by him at the plate, Prater scored to cut the lead to 5-4. Harris was at the plate but struck out for the first out of the inning.
Goolsby was up next and lined a single into center. He stole second but when he tried to steal third, he was gunned down for the second out of the inning. Elliott followed in the order but on a 3-2 pitch, Bacak held on to a foul tip to end the game.
Sheridan was saddled with the loss after giving up five runs on three hits. Only one of the runs was earned. He also struck out nine and walked four.
Robinson picked up the win as he went 6.1 innings, giving up four runs on three hits. He also struck out eight and walked four.
At the plate, Prater was 2-3 with three runs scored while Copeland was 1-3 with a run scored.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.