Sophomore Trent Armstrong continued the trend of quality starts by Waxahachie pitchers in district play while the offense came alive in a 6-1 win against West Mesquite on Friday at Richards Park.
Armstrong allowed five hits through six while striking out 10 to pick up the win while the Indians picked up nine hits and used solid defense to improve to 2-3 in District 15-4A.
“I seen what I wanted to see out of Trent tonight. The last time he pitched was against Brock in the Fort Worth tournament and he started out a little shaky. He has not had a lot of innings or pitches this season but I thought tonight he was the Trent that I saw last year. I thought he looked really good tonight,” Waxahachie head coach Tracy Wood said.
A leadoff single in the first inning by West Mesquite turned out to be pointless as Armstrong answered with two strikeouts before getting a grounder to third.
Waxahachie (13-8) answered back with a run in the bottom of the first as Michael Bosch led off with a triple to center before Kyle McLeroy singled with one away to give the Indians the lead.
Armstrong opened the second with a strikeout before his battery mate, catcher Chase Rudolph, did the rest.
West Mesquite reached after being hit by a pitch before Rudolph picked off the runner at second trying to steal. The next batter reached on a single before falling asleep on the base as Rudolph was able to pick him off at first to end the inning.
With Waxahachie leading 1-0 in the fourth, the Wranglers loaded the bases with one away and it was Rudolph who came up with another big play.
After being hit in his first at bat, West Mesquite’s Brandon Breezley attempted to lay down a squeeze bunt to tie the game.
He popped the bunt down the third baseline and Rudolph made a nice play on the ball, catching it in the air for one out before throwing it to Cody Brown at third to double up the Wranglers and end the inning.
Rudolph finished the game with three pickoffs and the double play to keep the Indians in the game defensively in one of his best performances of the season.
“Chase has been extremely solid and he has done nothing but get better as we go. He is one of the most irreplaceable guys we have got,” Wood said. “He is doing a great job behind the plate but something else he is doing is fighting his way into the lineup. At the beginning of the year I challenged him and told him, ‘Your goal needs to be for me not to be able to DH for you, don’t let me. Make me let you hit.’ He is doing that. He is hitting balls hard, squaring them up and swinging the bat good. He has been a complete player for us.”
With the defense keeping the Indians ahead, the offense started to wake up in the late innings and scored once in the fourth before breaking out with three runs in the fifth and one in the sixth.
Armstrong padded the lead with a two-out single on a bouncing ball over the third baseman’s head that drove in David Martinelli, who led off the bottom of the fourth with a double.
In the fifth, Cameron Phillips and McLeroy led off with singles to left before advancing a base on a sacrifice bunt by David Villarreal. Martinelli stepped to the plate and delivered with a two-run single down the right field line.
Seth Sims followed with a single to center, forcing West Mesquite to pull pitcher Blake Seaton in favor of James Perez.
Taking a gamble on the Wrangler battery, the Indians attempted a double steal. West Mesquite catcher Genaro Salinas threw the ball toward third but it went into left field, allowing Martinelli to score the game’s fifth run.
West Mesquite scored an unearned run in the fifth before a sacrifice fly off the bat of Alec Johnson added to the Waxahachie lead in the bottom of the sixth.
Cameron Phillips retired the Wranglers in order in the seventh inning after hitting the first batter he faced.
Rudolph displayed his throwing skills one more time for West Mesquite and picked off Jordan Fobbs at second as he tried to steal after reaching on the hit by pitch.
Phillips struck out the next two batters to end the game.
“I was just ready to win. We are 2-3 in district and I am ready just to start winning every game, take every game seriously, play hard and as good as I can just to get another win,” Rudolph said. “It felt pretty good to get this win. We are going to continue to keep playing hard and trying to win every game we can to make it the playoffs.”
Martinelli, Sims and McLeroy each went 2-for-3 in the game for Waxahachie while Bosch, Phillips and Armstrong had one hit each. Waxahachie stole 10 bases in the game with Jeremy Escobar swiping three, Martinelli two, Sims two, Ryan Cawthon one, Bosch one and McLeroy one.
The five-run win snapped a three-game district losing streak for the Tribe that saw the team just score one run in 21 innings.
“After the Corsicana loss we talked about continuing to play hard, working hard, coaching hard and leave it all on the field. I am not worried about my guys and their psyche at all, they are solid,” Wood said. “We have been a little unlucky, a little cold at the plate after coming out of our last tournament but I think we are going to be OK. I have said it a thousand times and I will say it again, as long as you pitch and play defense you have a chance.”
Waxahachie will play at Lancaster on Tuesday before wrapping up the first half of district play with tough games against Ennis and Mesquite Poteet on Friday and Saturday.