Lamb’s HR Boosts Grapeland to Win
By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – Say what you will about the Grapeland Sandies in the 2022 season, but they certainly know how to win close games. Heading into Tuesday’s game against the Slocum Mustangs, the Sandies had won two games in district by two runs and four by one run.
After the Tuesday night contest against the Mustangs, you can make that five one-run wins as Grapeland took down Slocum by a final score of 3-2. The victory moved the Sandies overall record to 14-9-1 and clinched the second seed out of District 21-2A as they head into the postseason next week.
Peyton Prater got the nod for Grapeland and worked a fairly easy first inning. He got Mark Guess to tap back to the mound for the first out, gave up a walk to Lex Rich, fanned Zack Coble and then got Jose Molina to ground into a 6-4 force at second.
When the Sandies came in from the field, they drew first blood with a pair of runs to take an early 2-0 lead. Prater led off with a single to center and moved to second on a Jax Vickers sacrifice. Cole Goolsby was up next and he roped a double into left to drive in Prater.
After Slocum pitcher Cody Jordan caught Jason DeCluette looking at strike three, Johnny Lamb lofted a bloop single over second base which allowed Goolsby to come around and score. An error on the play allowed Lamb to move over to third but that was as far as he would get as Slade Harris grounded out to short to end the inning.
Armed with a 2-0 lead, Prater returned to the mound and promptly walked Julian Young. A wild pitch with Jacob Easley at the plate moved Young to second. On a 2-1 count, however, Prater wheeled around and picked off Young at second.
Easley grounded out to first for the second out, however, Prater gave up a double to Braeden Lindsey and walked Jordan to put runners at first and second. The Grapeland pitcher was undeterred and came back to ring up Ayden Sarraf on three consecutive pitches to retire the side.
In the bottom of the second, Jordan simply baffled the home team. He forced Jacob Vaden to pop up to second, coaxed a ground out to third from Jace Elliott and struck out Kristian Sparks to end the inning.
When the Mustangs came in from the field, they cut Grapeland lead in half. Guess fouled out to lead off the inning. Rich drew a walk and moved to second on a passed ball. Coble followed in the batting order and reached on an error which allowed Rich to scamper home, making the score 2-1.
After giving up a walk to Molina, Prater regrouped to strike out Young and then got Easley to pop up to second to end the Slocum threat.
Jordan shut down the Sandies in the bottom of the third while Prater did the same in the top of the fourth.
In the bottom of the fourth, however, the Sandies added an insurance run. DeCluette led off with a ground out to second which brought Lamb to the plate.
Lamb watched the first two pitches go by as one was called a ball and the other a strike. He fouled off the next pitch to fall in a 1-2 hole but worked his way back to a full count. On the payoff pitch, Jordan tried to sneak one down the middle but Lamb was waiting on it.
The junior turned on the pitch and sent a blast high into the darkening skies in left field for a solo homerun, putting the Sandies up 3-1.
After Lamb’s moonshot, Slocum made a change on the mound as Lex Rich came in for Jordan. Rich did his job in relief as he struck out Harris and Vaden to end the frame.
As the game progressed into the fifth, Prater got two quick Ks but then hit Molina with a pitch. Young was up next and singled past second and that was all for Prater. Jace Elliott came on in relief and struck out Easley to retire the side.
Rich retired the Sandies in order in the bottom half of the fifth and Elliott returned the favor to the Mustangs in the top of the sixth as he only needed 10 pitches to retire the side.
After a walk to Vickers to open the Grapeland half of the sixth, Rich retired the next three batters he faced to move the game into the seventh inning.
That’s when things got a little tense. Guess led off with a single to left and with Rich in the batter’s box, a miscue on a pickoff attempt moved him to second. Rich would double on the next pitch to drive in Guess and make the score 3-2.
Goolsby was brought on in relief of Elliott following the double and slammed the door shut. He got Coble to ground into a 3-4 force at first while Rich took third on the play. Goolsby then struck out Molina for the second out. Young was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners, but Goolsby coaxed Easley to hit an easy grounder to DeCluette who stepped on the bag at first to end the game.
Prater was credited with the win after throwing 4.2 innings. He gave up one run on two hits while striking out seven and walking five. Elliott pitched 1.1 innings of relief and gave up one run on two hits while striking out two. Goolsby pitched an inning in relief to pick up the save. He didn’t allow a hit and struck out one.
Jordan took the loss as he pitched 3.1 innings, giving up three runs on five hits. He also struck out two. Rich pitched 2.2 innings in relief and didn’t give up a hit while striking out six and walking one.
At the plate, Grapeland was led by Lamb who was 2-3 with a homerun, two RBI and a run scored. Slocum was led by Rich who was 1-2 with an RBI and a run scored.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.