KEMP, Texas — In 12 district games, Palmer High School lost three matchups — two to district leader Sunnyvale High School and another during its district opener against Kemp High School.
On Thursday at Yellowjacket Field, the Bulldogs knocked off Kemp High School 6-2 with only six hits, avenged one of the trio of defeats and made a move toward the top of the District 11-3A standings.
It also marked the second of a two-game win streak for a Palmer (11-10, 7-3) that had split games with Kemp this season. The Yellowjackets took the first matchup by a 6-5 margin on March 7 and the Bulldogs beat them 6-1 a month later.
The help of three RBIs from Gunnar Barnes and a 2-for-3 plate performance by Cole Yarbrough ensured Palmer claimed the rubber match. Barnes' presence on the mound was felt, too, as he struck out eight batters and allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings with 76 pitches as a 71 percent strike rate.
The Yellowjackets' five hits came from the bats of John Brooks, Noah Herring, Nate Mendoza and Dakota Price but the team was held hitless in 19 of its 24 at-bats. Only seven of those at-bats resulted in an extra base hit, a walk, a six-pitch at-bat or a sacrifice bunt, hit or fly ball — the type of quality plate appearances necessary to shaking a rotation like Palmer's.
While Barnes shut Kemp down from the inside out, he, Yarbrough, Jaden Lopez, Shawn Medina, Jeremey Robinson and Jordan Ruiz battered the infield with singles, doubles and the occasional error-causing line drive. Baserunning, specifically steals by Robinson and Yarbrough in the first and third inning, frustrated Kemp pitchers' Herring, Colton Breeze and Mason Claver.
The Yellowjacket trio combined for 77 pitches thrown six runs allowed on six hits, two walks and three errors. Claver, the game's losing pitcher, gave up all but one hit.
Palmer will look to extend its winning streak to three games and make a move toward the district's No. 2 seed when they face Scurry-Rosser High School at 7 p.m. Friday at PHS Bulldog Field. The Bulldogs will have Tuesday off as part of a pre-scheduled open date in their district schedule.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI.