By Will Johnson
NORMANGEE – Somedays, the hits are there and the baseball looks as big as a beach ball. Other days, it shrinks to the size of a BB.
Such was the case on Tuesday evening when the Grapeland Sandies traveled to Normangee for a District 21-2A tilt and walked away with a bad taste in their mouths as Normangee pitchers held the Grapeland offense hitless as the Panthers picked up the 5-2 win.
The game started out promising for Grapeland as Cole Goolsby was hit by a pitch. He stole second but both Jayce Elliott and Cooper Sheridan struck out swinging. Goolsby then stole third but was stranded there when Jason DeCluette watched a Logan Luna pitch whistle by for strike three.
Cooper Sheridan was on the mound for the Sandies and gave up a lead-off single to mason Hardy. Sheridan followed up the single with a strike out of Luna, but an error and a wild pitch moved Hardy to third.
Kade Stone was up next and was plunked to give the Panthers runners at the corners with only one out. Izaha Jones followed in the batting order and could not catch up to a Sheridan fast ball for strike three. Denton Young drew a walk to load the bases, but Sheridan forced the next batter – Dalton Stewart – to tap back to the mound for the force at first to end the inning.
A quiet second inning gave way to the third as Luna started to dominate the Grapeland line-up. He needed only eight pitches to retire the Sandies in the third and when the Panthers came in from the field, they took the lead.
Normangee was back to the top of the order and Hardy reached on a single. A stolen base, a wild pitch and an error allowed him to come around to score and give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. That was all they could get as Sheridan struck out the next three batters to send the game into the fourth.
Neither team could generate any offense in the fourth but when the Sandies came to bat in the top of the fifth, they managed to tie the game without a hit. Jacob Vaden recached first on an infield error and moved to second on a Jax Vickers’ groundout.
Following a Peyton Prater strike out, Slade Harris hit a pop fly that dropped into the shallow outfield for an error which allowed Vaden to motor home and tie the score at one. A pair of walks to Goolsby and Elliott set the stage for a big inning, but Sheridan popped up to first to end the Grapeland threat.
Normangee reclaimed the lead when they came up to bat in the bottom of the fifth. Spencer Yellott grounded out to start the Panthers’ at-bat but Hardy reached first once again when the Sandies committed another error.
A walk to Luna moved Hardy to second but Sheridan regrouped to strike out Stone. An error at second allowed Hardy to scamper home and give the Panthers a 2-1 lead. Sheridan closed out the inning, however, when he got Young to ground out to short.
The Sandies threatened in the top of the sixth but couldn’t come up with that key hit. Normangee, on the other hand, went on to score three runs to open up a 5-1 lead and then held on to win 5-2.
Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.