DALLAS – Midlothian had two rally moments in its bats. It needed three.
After coming back from early deficits against Denton Guyer to take a one-run lead, the Panthers fell behind again only to come back in the bottom of the sixth with an Alec Humphreys three-run home run that cut the deficit to one. That would be as close as the comeback came as the team dropped the game 8-7 falling to an 0-3 start in the Highland Park Scotland Yard Classic.
“We kind of fought back there but what we’ve got to learn as a team is how to make things happen in crucial situations. We’re not doing a very good job of holding on to the lead. This tournament’s got some really, really good teams in here, let’s be really frank about it,” coach Ray Hydes said. “It’s kind of like we’re snake bit right now. We can’t seem to make the play. We’ve got to get better.”
After dropping the opener 12-2 to Highland Park on one bad inning Thursday, things didn’t get much better on Friday. The Panthers (5-7-1, 0-1 district) opened play with a game against Dallas Jesuit featuring potential MLB first-round draft pick Josh Bell. The team contained Bell for much of the game, limiting him to two ground ball outs in the infield during his first two plate appearances.
His third time to the dish, they would not be so lucky. Starter Brad Younts, who had a scoreless game going until the top half of the sixth, threw Bell the first fastball he’d seen all day which he promptly took for a ride over the fence and into the street next to the school for a three-run homer that resulted in the eventual 3-0 win.
Bouncing back against Denton Guyer proved to be anything but easy as the Panthers fell behind 2-0 after the first inning and trailed 3-0 going into the bottom of the third.
That’s when the bats finally woke up as Blaine Blackburn and Humphreys reached base with a walk and single and were bunted over by Cody Cain to bring up Conner Roberts.
He sent a double to left that brought home both players to make it a one-run game. Roberts would steal third during Justin Shealy’s at-bat and then tie the game when Shealy hit a single. The fourth inning looked to be a turning point as J.D. Pruitt reached first when a strikeout wasn’t completed. Blackburn gave the Panthers a lead on an RBI double.
Jesuit responded by tying the game in the top of the fifth and putting up another four runs in the top of the sixth thanks to a few defensive miscues by the Midlothian.
While the team was down big, it refused to simply go away as walks to Blake Lunday and Matthew Young put two on. Pruitt moved the runners into scoring position where they stayed until Humphreys stepping in with two outs. The junior blasted a three-run shot to left that brought the Panthers back within one.
“It felt good. It felt like I finally got myself out of a little slump there,” Humphreys said.
The rally appeared to be staying on course as Cain walked to put the tying run on base and the winning run at the plate. Sadly, that’s where things ended as the Wildcats got a final strikeout to end the game and send the Panthers to a fourth-straight loss overall.
With two more games on Saturday against Midland and Flower Mound, the competition doesn’t get any easier. Midlothian players know a second-straight tournament championship shot is over, meaning pride is the best thing they’ve got to play for.
“These are good teams but I think we can hang with them,” Humphreys said. “We’ve just got to come out and keep playing hard.”
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