A late-season surge put the Midlothian baseball team in position to clinch a playoff spot on Saturday by virtue of a play-in game against Grand Prairie. Sadly, the run ended there.
After falling to Mansfield 11-1 on Friday, the Panther bats struggled against the Gophers resulting in a 3-1 loss to end the season. The loss means Midlothian will miss the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade.
“It’s been a while here at Midlothian since we haven’t been in the playoffs and I know these guys did a good job of fighting back,” coach Ray Hydes said. “We just told them that we love them and that we believed in them. Our seniors carried the torch on our leadership and sometimes in this game things don’t bounce your way.”
Friday’s loss to Mansfield snapped a four-game win streak and left the Panthers wondering if they’d get a chance to redeem themselves. Grand Prairie’s loss to South Grand Prairie meant the two teams were tied for fourth, forcing a play-in situation.
As has been the case much of the season, Midlothian (13-16-1) fell prey to field mistakes that extended the inning and resulted in crucial runs. Starting pitcher Blaine Blackburn held the Gophers to five hits on the day but three fielding errors could not keep Grand Prairie off the scoreboard.
All three errors in the field eventually resulted in runs that put the necessary distance up. The Panthers responded with a lackluster offensive day and several base running mistakes. A would-be sacrifice fly didn’t happen after a runner at third failed to tag up while a missed sacrifice bunt kept a runner off third just moments before a passed ball would have allowed him to score. For the game, Midlothian did manage to out hit the Gophers, 6-5, but couldn’t string anything together.
Those little things added up for a frustrating finish that left the team on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
“That’s the things that don’t happen that you can look back at. I just didn’t feel like we played as well defensively and for sure at the plate. We just ran into some decent pitching and good pitching beats good hitting every time,” Hydes said.
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