WAXAHACHIE — After the rains cleared and sunshine returned to bless the grounds of Paul Richards Park, the Indian baseball team returned to the left side of the win-loss column.
No. 8 (14-4, 3-1) Waxahachie handed (13-5, 3-1) Mansfield Legacy its first loss of the young District 10-5A schedule, 4-1. The game was pushed back to Saturday afternoon due to sloppy field conditions following rain Friday morning.
Although the game felt well in hand for most of the afternoon as it unfolded at a blistering pace — roughly two hours and 15 minutes passed between first and final pitch — the top of the seventh inning was a little dicey.
Legacy got its first two runners aboard courtesy of just the seventh error this season by shortstop Trevin Robinson (.883 fielding percentage) and a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield. Jackson Leath (4-1, 2.97 ERA) bounced back to retire the next two Broncos with his seventh strikeout of the afternoon and fly ball to Joey Trevino in left field.
Leath was then pulled from the ballgame by head coach Tracy Wood as he crossed the 100-pitch plateau and neared the 110-pitch UIL limit. The senior exited with two outs and runners on first and second after he scattered five hits, allowed one earned run and struck out seven over 6.2 innings of work.
Cory Woodhouse, as he often has this season, came on in relief to protect a tight lead — and, uncharacteristically, walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. Seemingly unfazed, Woodhouse got the next batter to hit a chopper back to the mound. After he flagged down the shot on one hop and considered a toss home, the senior casually tossed the final out over to Alex Castillo at first base for the bounce-back win.
"It is a good win. I thought Jackson threw well, but I don't think he was as sharp as he has been. Scoring those runs early was big, too,” Wood said. “We had some timely hits, but I feel like we waited too long to adjust to the breaking ball. We were rolling over stuff early, but I felt like we made some adjustments later and did a good job of that. Jackson was good, but he has been sharper. He just had too many three-ball counts but, I'll tell you what, I like our chances. I just think our pitching staff is going to be better than everybody else's."
Thanks to a three-run first inning, Leath was able to work with a lead for all but the first three outs of his outing, as he retired the side in order in the top of the first inning.
Three of the four runs came after a fastball ran in on Robinson to put the shortstop on via a hit-by-pitch to lead off the bottom of the first inning and Alec Sanchez followed a Peyton Graham flyout with a five-pitch walk to put runners on first and second with one out. Levi David then roped a double down the left-field line to score Robinson and a Trevino groundout to the Bronco shortstop plated Sanchez from third base for a 2-0 lead.
Ryan Allen followed the groundout with a single to center field that scored David from third base after Jalen Catalon bobbled the scoop.
It was also David who scored an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning. The senior reached with a single to right field and moved to third on an error and a passed ball. Trevino flew out to Catalon in center field, but the out was plenty deep enough to score David for a three-run lead, 4-1.
The save was the first of the season for Woodhouse, who is 3-2 with a 2.58 ERA. His 24.1 innings pitched is third to only David (27.2 IP) and Leath (28.1 IP), and he has appeared in three of the four district games this season.
In those three outings, Woodhouse has allowed just one run on four hits with seven strikeouts in 5.1 IP.
"He is nails. It is a no-brainer for me to bring him in. I don't hesitate one bit on putting him in,” said Wood of the West Texas A&M-commit. “Honestly, I should have gone to get him a little earlier before that last hitter and just thought I'll just let Jackson go one more. Cory is good.
"The good thing is, is we have more than just Cory that can come in and throw. You still have Damian Ortiz, Ty [Navarro], Will Morgan — we just have a few options down there to pitch. What we are having to do is we are having to intrasquad on Wednesdays just to get those guys some work because three guys are getting all the work, which is fine. I think our staff is deep."
The win, which came on the heels of a nine-inning loss Tuesday night to Midlothian, puts the Indians in a four-way tie with Red Oak, Mansfield Lake Ridge and Legacy for the top seed in District 10-5A. Waxahachie will travel to Mansfield Timberview and Lancaster on Friday and Saturday before closing out the first half of the district slate at home Tuesday, April 4 against Lake Ridge. The weekend set is required due to statewide testing on Tuesday.
However, the Waxahachie skipper said the ballclub needs to focus on the first two tasks at hand before having a chance to close out the first half with a 6-1 mark.
"Timberview is playing 2–1, 3–1, and 4-1 ballgames and I have heard that this is as good as they have ever been. There ain't no days off in this district,” Wood added. “We have to come back and win those two games. We just got to keep working and grinding, but I like our baseball team. Will just have to see how it plays out."
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith