Three consecutive wins have the Midlothian Panthers right back in the thick of the District 14-5A playoff race.
The Panthers swept Ennis this past week — both game 5-3 — and then picked up a 3-1 home win Tuesday against Corsicana behind an outstanding performance by Caden Hawkins on the bump.
Hawkins tossed a complete-game in the victory, striking out 10, walking none and allowing just one earned run on five scattered hits. He needed only 92 pitches and stranded three Tiger runners on base.
Nathan Humphreys began the Panthers half of the first inning with a single to center field. He then stole second and scored three batters later when Anthony Ferrante singled into left field for a 1-0 Panthers lead. Ryan McCaskill, who walked on seven pitches earlier in the inning, was gunned down at home for the final out of the bottom of the first inning.
Midlothian added to its lead in the bottom of the second inning.
With one out, Lance Rains singled to left field and Hunter Colburn walked, and the two later scored on RBI singles by Humphreys and Josh Tankersley.
The three runs were enough for Hawkins to cruise through the final four innings. He struck out five consecutive Tiger batters over the fifth through seventh innings, which included sitting down the side in order on 10 pitches in the sixth.
Devan Lindsey recorded three of the Corsicana hits — all singles. Caydon Rash and Micah Burke picked up the other two, while Kolby Kinkade drove in the lone Corsicana run (Lindsey) with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Micah Burke took the loss for the Tigers. He allowed all three earned runs on six hits, struck out three and walked two.
THE 'FIRST' OF MANY
One of the more memorable Midlothian baseball wins in program history came Friday at home — the new home at Ronnie Clanton Field — against Ennis, 5-3.
The Panthers officially transferred buckets of baseballs, an L-screen and, really, most everything except for their sunflower seeds to the new home field across Walter Stephenson Road at the Midlothian High Athletic Complex.
Seeds and gum are not allowed on the new all-turf playing surface.
The complex, which features a softball stadium and tennis courts, features 600-covered seats for the baseball and softball fields, turf fields and 10,000 square feet dedicated to locker rooms and the concession stand.
With a new field comes "firsts." A few of the "firsts" that occurred Friday included:
• First strikeout: Jackson Quinn of Seth Zambrano on six pitches (T1, 0 outs).
• First ball in play: Clayton Jenkins grounds out to Quinn who throws to Ryan McCaskill at 1B (T1, 3 outs).
• First walk: Jarron Honza walks on seven pitches (T2, 0 outs).
• First stolen base: Honza stole second base (T2, 0 outs).
• First home run: Anthony Ferrante hits a solo home run to left field (B2, 0 outs, 2-1 count).
• First RBI: Anthony Ferrante hits a solo home run to left field (B2, 0 outs, 2-1 count).
• First triple: Hunter Harrington tripled to right field on a 1-2 count (B2, 0 outs).
• First 3-strikeout inning: Quinn struck out all three Ennis batters in the top of the third inning. He needed 16 pitches to strikeout Colton Daniell, Lorenzo Leija and Zambrano.
• First single: Hunter Colburn singled to right field to lead off the bottom of the third inning.
• First win: Quinn (5IP, 9K, 2BB, 1H, 0R) and the Midlothian Panthers.
• First save: Nick Lokash allowed one hit and one walk in the seventh inning Friday to record the save in the 5-3 Midlothian win.
With Tuesday's win, Midlothian is now 16-9 on the season and 5-4 in District 14-5A, which has the Panthers tied with (15-13, 5-4) Red Oak for fourth place in the district standings.
Cleburne remains atop the district with a 7-2 mark, while Corsicana is second at 6-3 and Joshua is third at 5-3.
Ennis sits in sixth place with a 4-6 mark in 14-5A. Waco University remains winless through 10 district games.
The Panthers and Tigers conclude their two-game series at 7 p.m. Thursday in Corsicana.