Mesquite Poteet has dominated district play since 2007 and put together a streak of 59 consecutive victories along the way but that all ended Friday night at Richards Park against the Waxahachie Indians.
Behind the pitching of Kyle McLeroy and the clutch hitting of Cameron Phillips the Indians rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the visiting Pirates 4-3 and snap the longest running district winning streak in Texas.
After the game, Waxahachie head coach Tracy Wood had trouble finding the words, but spoke about how this game, “showed the character of this team. We had the wind taken out of our sails there in the sixth inning, but they never gave up. I’m proud of this team. After losing to Poteet the first time and now going undefeated in the second round of district, I’m proud of them.”
Waxahachie (22-10, 11-5) suffered a 7-1 loss to Poteet in Mesquite to end the first round of district play with a 3-5 overall record and a slim chance at the playoffs.
With a determination to take one game at a time the Indians rolled off win after win against top district teams before stunning No. 5 Poteet (23-6, 15-1) Friday to finish the regular season with seven consecutive victories.
With the win the Indians moved into a three-way tie for second place in District 15-4A with Red Oak and Forney. The teams played seeding games Saturday in Ennis to determine the seed order for the playoffs.
Following the Indians’ win in Ennis last Thursday the team had a little over a week to decide who would take the mound in the rematch with Poteet.
Poteet had already claimed the district championship and the No. 1 seed but with a loss the Indians would have had to face Corsicana in a playoff play-in game for the fourth and final playoff seed.
Wood and pitching coach Jim Miller went back and forth all week in determining who would pitch against Poteet, the results speak for themselves.
McLeroy held Poteet to three hits over seven innings while striking out seven and walking two. The senior lefty threw 109 pitches in one of the best performances of his career.
“He put us on his back tonight,” Wood said.
McLeroy walked Poteet’s leadoff hitter to open the game and then proceeded to retire the next 12 batters in a row with a little help from a pick-off after a hit batter in the second inning.
While McLeroy was not allowing a hit to the Pirates, the Indians were threatening to score and finally broke through in the bottom of the fourth inning.
After stranding runners in scoring position in the second and third inning the Indians picked up one of the big plays they lacked during the first half of district competition.
With Phillips on third and David Martinelli on first with one out, Martinelli broke for second allowing Phillips to steal home for a 1-0 lead.
In the fifth, Poteet’s Blake Griffin broke up the McLeroy no-hit bid with a leadoff single. The next hitter bunted back to the pitcher and when McLeroy went to apply the tag to the runner, Angel Rodriguez, the ball squirted out, putting Pirates at first and second with no outs.
The Waxahachie southpaw struck out the next hitter for the first out of the inning. Before Poteet’s No. 8 hitter popped out to Waxahachie second baseman Seth Sims, the Pirates moved to second and third on a wild pitch, putting the go-ahead run on second base.
McLeroy was able to get out of the jam by forcing Javier Soltero, Poteet’s nine-hole hitter, to ground out back to the mound, ending the Pirates’ fifth inning threat.
Chase Rudolph led off the bottom of the fifth with a double before pinch-runner Jeremy Escobar advanced to third on a wild pitch. The next hitter, Trent Armstrong, flew out to right field and Escobar broke for home to try to score. He was thrown out at the plate for the second out of the inning, eventually ending the Indians’ fifth inning threat.
The Pirates managed a leadoff walk off McLeroy to start the top of the sixth inning. Waxahachie threw out the lead runner on the ensuing bunt for the first out but the third hitter of the inning reached on an Indian error, putting two men on with one out.
McLeroy stepped up again and struck out Poteet’s four-hole hitter for the second out.
Poteet’s next hitter, Blake Griffin, who also took over on the mound for the Pirates in the fifth inning, worked McLeroy into a 3-2 count with two outs.
Griffin was able to drive an outside fastball into the right field power alley and hit it over the top of the fence near the 321-foot sign to give Poteet a 3-1 lead.
Needing to respond, Sims led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk against Griffin and McLeroy followed suit, putting Indians on first and second with no outs.
Phillips followed and drove a fastball down the right field line and into the corner allowing both Sims and McLeroy to score and tie the game, 3-3, putting Phillips on third.
Two hitters later, with one out, Martinelli hit a fly ball to right field. The ball was deep enough for Phillips to score, giving Waxahachie a 4-3 lead, needing only three outs to win.
McLeroy went back to the mound to face Poteet’s seven, eight and nine-hole hitters.
Chad Young, the Pirates starting pitcher, led off the inning and hit a shallow foul ball to right field, but diving in foul territory was Phillips who was able make the play for the first out.
Eight-hole hitter Tony Delone flew out to left for the second out and in a fitting ending, McLeroy forced a ground ball back to the pitcher for the final out to secure the Waxahachie win.
“We could not have done it without Phillips and the rest of the good defense,” McLeroy said. “I did not feel like my slider or fastball were as good I wanted, but I was able to get some outs with my slider.”
While McLeroy was tough on the mound, Phillips was his equal at the plate and in the field, yet the senior had just one comment after the game.
“Kyle did a great job,” Phillips said.
Phillips was 2-for-3 in the game with a double and triple while batting clean-up for the Indians. He drove in two runs, scored two runs, stole home and made the game’s biggest defensive play with the diving catch in the top of the seventh inning. He scored the first and last run of the game while driving in the two middle runs to account for all the Waxahachie scoring.
Griffin was 2-for-3 with three RBI for Poteet but it was not enough as Poteet suffered its first district loss since 2007 when it fell to Highland Park before making a run to the Class 4A state tournament.
Waxahachie Daily Light Sports Editor Chad Wilson contributed to this report.