By Will Johnson
EAST TEXAS – The Grapeland Sandies entered the 2022 postseason as the second seed out of District 21-2A and looked to make a splash in the playoffs. The Sandies had played lights out baseball all season, having won several one-run games and coming from behind in several more.
Their first-round opponent was the Douglass Indians, who apparently have a different definition of lights out baseball than most people.
The stadium lights in Douglass went out twice during game one of the best-of-three series on Friday evening, with the second time forcing the conclusion of the contest to be moved to Grapeland on Saturday afternoon.
Up 4-2 in the third, the stadium lights flickered and then went out. When they came back on, the momentum the Sandies had established behind a Ricky Gilmore homerun had vanished into the night.
Douglass plated three in the bottom of the third to go up 5-4. In the top of the fourth, however, the Sandies rattled off five runs to take a 9-5 lead. A two-run error by Grapeland in the bottom half of the frame let the Indians back into the game and at the end of four, the score stood at 9-7 in favor of Grapeland.
The Sandies threatened in the fifth and had the bases loaded, with only one out. Douglass managed to wriggle off the hook, however, and when the Indians came in from the field, they reclaimed the lead. A pair of miscues in the field led to a four-run inning as Douglass led 11-9 after five.
Fortunately, Grapeland rebounded to score two in the top of the sixth to knot things up at 11 and had a chance to retake the lead but couldn’t capitalize on yet another bases-loaded situation.
Errors continued to plague the Sandies and allowed Douglass to retake the lead. In the top of the seventh, though, things got a little squirrelly.
Grapeland tied the game at 12 and then added two more to go up 14-12. The Sandies loaded the bases with two outs and that’s when a transformer blew, plunging the stadium into darkness.
At that point, the game was called and the two teams agreed to finish the contest in Grapeland on Saturday afternoon.
Picking up where they left off the night before, the two teams hit the field on Saturday afternoon and the roughly 12-hour break proved to be detrimental to Grapeland.
Douglass finally got the Sandies out in the top of the seventh and loaded the bases in the bottom half of the frame before Grapeland could record an out. After the second out, two Indian batters were walked and once again the game was tied.
What else would you expect, as the game went into extra innings knotted at 14. Grapeland went quietly in the top of the eighth and Douglass finally put it away when they scored on a fielder’s choice to close out the contest and pick up the 15-14 win.
It was a game the Grapeland squad truly should have won. They out hit Douglass 16-4 but probably had their worst fielding day of the season as they committed nine errors.
The loss and the Saturday afternoon heat seemed to take its toll on the Sandies. As the second game got underway, Douglass scored three in the first, one in the second and two in the third to open up a 6-0 lead.
The Indians tacked on another run in the top of the fifth to push their lead to 7-0. Grapeland trimmed a run off the margin in the bottom of the sixth and scored twice more in the seventh, but it was too little, too late as Douglass held on for the 7-3 win and the Bi-District Championship.
Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.