Seven days is an eternity during the grind of the District 10-5A-baseball season.
One week ago the Waxahachie Indians headed to Mansfield in search of a much-needed first district win. Red Oak, on the other hand, was fresh off of a 26-run romping of Mansfield Timberview.
The Indians end this week on a three-game winning streak after sweeping the Hawks in a two-game series with a 4-1 win Friday night.
"I keep telling them, and I am going to say it every day, that you win this game with pitching and defense," Waxahachie head baseball coach Tracy Wood said. "If you get zeros, you are going to win. If you get ones, you are probably going to win. And then you throw on top of it that we can swing it a little bit — we have a chance to be good. These guys are grinding. We just have to stay with it."
Waxahachie outhit Red Oak 8-5 in the win, but it was starting pitcher Trevor Mott (4-1, 0.78 ERA) who proved to be the difference maker.
The Indian lefty struck out a career-high 12 batters over his six innings of work. He issued a season-low one walk and surrendered four hits. The lone Red Oak run was unearned.
"I am really proud of Mott," Wood said. "His outings have not been easy for him all year long, but he is grinding. We challenged him a little, and he stepped up and accepted the challenge. I was really proud of the way he competed."
Waxahachie outscored Red Oak 15-3 over the two-game series with four Indian hurlers combining to allow one earned run.
Neither team found any success at the plate in the first two innings Friday night at Paul Richards Park in Waxahachie.
Mott then fell behind Hernan Zamora 3-0 with a runner on in the top of the third inning. He battled back to a full count, but Zamora (1-3, BB) roped a single to left-centerfield to plate the first run of the ballgame. The run was unearned after Trenton Fowler reached on a fielding error and moved over to second courtesy of an Indian throwing error.
Three pitches later, Mott induced a 6-3 double play to clear the bases with two outs. Four more pitches and Mott got a Hawk to chase an off-speed pitch in the dirt for his fifth strikeout of the game. Brandon Snowden (1-3) tossed down to Ryan Allen (1-3, RBI, BB) at first base to end the top half of the third inning.
The Indians loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning — and Sage Hampton delivered. The Waxahachie third baseman laced a two-out single to right-center field to plate two runs for a 2-1 Waxahachie lead.
Zamora exited the following inning after he walked Ryan Allen with the bases loaded and the Indians leading 3-1. The Red Oak righty allowed seven hits, walked four and struck out four over 3.2 innings.
Red Oak relief pitcher Tallon Heine promptly got an infield pop out to end the Waxahachie threat.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Mott recorded two quick outs before he found himself in a jam with Hawks on second and third. He escaped with Waxahachie still up 3-1 after Jovanny Mijares reeled in a line drive at second base.
Mijares (1-2, RBI, BB) then came through for a crucial insurance run in the bottom of the fifth.
Hampton (1-2, 2 RBI, 2 BB) led off with a five-pitch walk and then stole second base. The senior Waxahachie second baseman then drilled a single back up the middle to easily score the speedy Hampton for a 4-1 Indian lead.
"He has done it all year. Jovanny is a first-year starter, and he has accepted the challenge and done a really good job for us — no doubt about it," Wood said. "He had a big at-bat. Sage had a big at-bat. And that has kind of been our moniker all year is that we have had a lot of leads, but at one point in time we left 90 guys on base in 16 games. That tells the story. We got some big hits when we had to have them, and that was the difference in that ballgame."
The Tribe squandered a chance to cash in a little later in the inning when Indians occupied second and third with just one out. Waxahachie ultimately left 12 runners on the base paths on a night when Red Oak stranded six.
Mott remained unfazed on the bump and retired the side in the top of the sixth. He recorded his 12th strikeout to end the Hawk half and his evening.
Renfro took the ball for the seventh inning and needed 22 pitches to record a pair of strikeouts and leave one Hawk on base for the first save of his career.
"I am really proud of Parker Renfro. He came in there and played a role that we asked him to play, and he got it done," Wood said. "Those are bright lights out there. I think the more that happens, the better they are all going to be."
The win dropped Red Oak to 7-7 on the season and 2-2 in District 10-5A, while the Indians are now 3-1 in district action and 8-9-1 on the year.
Though a losing record still hangs around as the Indians head toward the midway point of the regular season, it has caused no sweat to fall from the brow of Wood or the Tribe.
"I can't tell you the last time we had a losing record, probably 2010," Wood said. "But there has been no panic from anyone. We know we can play. We know we are a good baseball team. And we tell them every day. I think we have a chance to be really good. I really do."
Red Oak faces Dallas Jesuit at 1 p.m. Saturday in a non-district game. The Hawks return to district action for a two-game series next Tuesday and Friday against Mansfield Lake Ridge. Game one of the set is in Mansfield. Both games begin at 7 p.m.
Waxahachie will take the weekend off before returning to district play against rival Midlothian. Game one at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Waxahachie begins the toughest stretch of the 10-5A slate for the Indians who will play back-to-back two-game sets against Midlothian and Mansfield Legacy.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith