Sophomore pitcher Russell Smith pitched dominantly last Tuesday night for Midlothian, adding another no hitter to his 2015 resume and giving the Panthers a key district victory against the South Grand Prairie Warriors. Coming in`to the night, Midlothian was tied with the Warriors for first place in 6A Region I District 8. South Grand Prairie represented Midlothian’s only loss of the season, a 14-4 shelling at home back on March 11.
There was very little offense early from either team. Smith retired the first eight batters, with all but one striking out looking. It was clear Smith’s pitch speed was going to be an issue for the Warriors all night. Pitcher JT Jackson got the start for South Grand Prairie and had success in the first two frames, allowing only one walk and no hits through 7 batters.
Midlothian threatened in the third when Kyler Castillo and Jonathan Rehkopf singled back to back with two outs. But Jackson was able to pick off Rehkopf at first on a quick throw from the mound, ending the inning.
In the bottom of the third, the Panthers returned the favor. With two outs, Warrior Jesse Mendoza bunted and was able to reach first on a fielding error. But two pitches later, he was caught trying to steal second, notching the third out.
The top of the fourth began with an eight pitch walk to Zach Humphreys. Junior Hunter Pustejovsky followed with a sacrifice fly to advance Humphreys to second. Then, Blake Wilson singled a line drive to center field, advancing Humphreys to third. Third baseman Cole Roberts would score two on the next pitch from Jackson, with a double to to right field. Panthers led after four, 2-0.
Midlothian had ten plate appearances in a huge top of the sixth inning. Pustejovsky led things off with a walk, then would advance to third on a wild pitch from South’s Jackson. Blake Wilson followed with a hard liner to right field scoring Pustejovsky. Cole Roberts drove a liner to second baseman Jacob Sandoval, who was not able to field it cleanly, allowing Wilson to advance and Roberts to reach first. Next, Chris Martinez singled, scoring Roberts. Two batters later, Castillo singled, scoring Wilson and Roberts. Another wild pitch from Jackson scored Roberts, bringing the total to 6-0 Midlothian after six innings.
Pitcher Russell Smith stepped up his intensity and retired six straight to finish the game for the Panthers. Facing 22 batters on the night, Smith struck out 14 on 83 pitches, no runs and no hits. He threw first pitch strikes to 16 of the 22 batters he faced.
The victory was huge for the Panthers, head coach Ray Hydes said.
“Its a big win for us today,” Hydes. “South beat us the first time around so we were really up for this game. Our defense was good, and our offense got some clutch two-out hits. Things are really starting to come together. People don’t realize we’re really a young team that lost a lot of players last year. If you’ve got effective pitching and strong defense, good things are going to happen.”
At 7 p.m. on Friday the Panthers will travel to Duncanville for a district game with the Panthers.