MANSFIELD — Regardless of the sport, there are no easy games in District 10-5A. Tuesday night on the baseball diamond was a testament to the fact, as No. 7 (12-3, 1-0) Waxahachie and (4-13, 0-1) Mansfield Summit decided a seven-inning ballgame would not be enough.
It took eight innings, but the Indians battled through for the 3-2 win over the host Jaguars to start the district slate with a tally in the left-hand side of the win-loss column.
In the top of the eighth inning, Ryan Hampton executed a textbook sacrifice bunt down the third baseline with Sage Hampton on first base — who had reached by hustling down the line on a dropped third strike. The throw to first base was dropped, Hampton again out-hustled a throw — and the shortstop — to third base and then broke for home after that throw was wide of the bag.
The sophomore outfielder scampered home just ahead of the throw to give the Indians the eventual 3-2 win.
Emphasis on the “just ahead,” as Hampton needed every inch of his fingertips to reach around the catcher to swipe the plate with his right hand.
“I’m proud of them. They battled and they battled the whole stinking way,” said head baseball coach Tracy Wood. “We had a bunch of things go against us tonight and whatever it was, like a kid tripping over his own bat or maybe the strike zone being a little small or Levi [David] not being as sharp as he has been, but we still had some good at-bats. […] I’m proud of them and they battled their tails off.”
David and fellow senior Cory Woodhouse (3-1) dominated the Mansfield Summit batters during the one-run win. The two combined to record 17 strikeouts and allowed just three hits. Every Jaguar starter struck out at least once, with two accounting for three strikeouts, each.
Though David struggled a bit with consistently finding the strike zone, he managed to tally 12 strikeouts over his 4.2 innings of work with one hit and five walks allowed. He was also charged with the only two runs scored by the Jaguars — neither via a hit.
As for Woodhouse, the righty worked his 3.1 innings of relief in perfect compliment to his hard-throwing counterpart. He recorded five strikeouts with two hits and did not issue a free pass en route to his third win of the season and second in less than a week. Woodhouse last pitched Friday in the Corsicana tournament against Robert E. Lee High School where he notched his second consecutive complete-game win.
“There was nobody more valuable than Cory Woodhouse tonight. That is for sure. We know what we got with that guy, and he isn’t anything but a strike thrower in the bottom half of the zone, and he does a great job,” Wood said. “He was fantastic and it literally looked like he was playing catch out there. He did a great job.”
David surrendered his first of two runs in the bottom of the first inning when he was called for a balk with a runner on third base after a double-play ground ball. The Indians then stranded a pair of runners on the basepaths in the top of the second inning before David found a bit of a groove in the lower half of the strike zone in the Jaguar half of the inning.
The righty used 18 pitches to strike out the side in order. He also recorded three strikeouts in order in the fourth and fifth innings, only to have a passed ball on strike three put a Jaguar aboard to start the fifth.
In that fifth inning, David was chased from the ballgame after Grant Easton looped a Texas leaguer into short left field for the first Jaguar hit of the ballgame. With David nearing the newly minted UIL pitch-count maximum (110), Wood brought in Woodhouse with a runner on first base and the game still tied at two.
Victor Clark worked the count full but fell victim to a Woodhouse curveball in the dirt for the first of five strikeouts the right-handed hurler recorded on the evening.
Two innings later, Woodhouse complimented a solid defensive play shortstop Trevin Robinson made on a slow roller with a pair of strikeouts to send the game into the eighth inning.
The ensuing snowball fight between the Summit infielders in the top of the eighth and a bowed-neck outing in the bottom of the inning by Woodhouse sealed the one-run win.
Waxahachie scored its first two runs in the top-half of the first inning. After Robinson drew a leadoff walk and Peyton Graham singled through the right side, centerfield Alec Sanchez laid down a safety squeeze to score Robinson from third. David then singled to center field to score Graham two batters later.
The Indians had chances to tack on runs, though, as they stranded nine base runners on the evening.
In the top of the third inning, Summit’s Ryland Richard laid out for an acrobatic snag down the left field line to rob catcher Trey Thompson of extra bases and a pair of RBIs.
“He took away two runs and you have to give him credit for his effort there,” noted Wood after the game. “We also had a base running error [in the fourth inning] with the four-hole coming to the plate and a runner on third, but he was hustling and was trying to get to second. We won’t ever knock a kid for hustling.
“[…] I’m proud of my baseball team. I’m telling you, this district is going to be a war every night. We are going to go back to work Thursday after a day off for Spring Break, but I think you are going to see these guys compete every day. I really do.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith