BLOOMING GROVE, Texas — Fourteen hits and 13 RBI in five innings ensured Maypearl High School stayed undefeated in District 17-3A after Friday's 13-1 win against Blooming Grove High School at Lion Field.
Despite early Panther struggles in the first and second innings, Maypearl battered the Lion rotation for 10 runs in three innings. Six of those runs came courtesy of Dakota Davis, the game's winning hurler.
"I think the guys needed one time through the lineup to see him and get a feel for how he was pitching us," Panther Head Coach Brian Bilbrey said about Lions' junior ace Lincoln Revill. "The second time through the order, we started hitting the ball better and were able to break through."
Revill threw 66 pitches in 2.2 innings of work, striking out three batters while committing 10 errors and allowing 10 runs on nine hits. Stuckert, who came in as relief, threw 20 pitches and allowed three runs on five hits during the five-inning, run-ruled matchup.
The win came a mere four days after defeating state-ranked, TexasHighSchoolBaseball.com No. 4 Grandview High School 7-6 in eight innings with Luis Dermas' game-winning single and Davis' game-closing strikeout.
The Panthers are 9-6 overall and 6-0 in District 17-3A.
Given the emotion required to win a playoff-level matchup of that caliber, there may have been momentary stumble going into a game against a Lions' team that had lost seven of its last 10 games by an average of five runs.
The laser-sharp focus of this year's Panthers, Bilbrey said, wouldn't allow any muddying of their ultimate goal, though.
"I had no fear of a letdown," he continued. "We know it's 'go time' in terms of where we want to be when district play comes to a close. Everything counts right now. The guys have things they want to accomplish this year — especially the seniors — and that's a big motivation for how they approach every game regardless of the opponent."
Maypearl used Davis' 3-for-4, six RBI performance at the plate, as well as multiple hits by Lonnie Brooks (2-for-2), Zach Doyle (2-for-2, 1 RBI), Tanir Horton (3-for-3, 3 RBI), to stay one step ahead of the second-place Zebras and the rest of their district. Dermas, Cole Maxwell, Cory Nix and Robert Pinter each added a hit.
Davis, who threw striking out 10 batters, walking none and allowing one run on six hits and earning a 78 percent strike rate during his complete game performance, won his fifth game of the season and third in district. He also recorded his second -highest number of strikeouts since tossing 11 against Rice High School on March 16 and dropped his ERA to a season-low 1.793.
He has a district ERA of 1.167.
Bilbrey said the combination of peerless pitching and timely batting will be the major factors that define the way Maypearl's season unfolds — starting with the Panthers' 4 p.m. Friday matchup with Keene High School at Panther Field.
"It starts on the mound and Dakota threw the ball real well for us last night, like he has all year," Bilbrey continued. "When we can get that type of back-up on the mound it makes it a lot easier for out batters to do damage on the offensive side. Make no mistake, though, we're taking this thing one game at a time. Has winning a few games in a row has been nice? Sure it has. But we have started hot before in years past and faded down the stretch. That's not how we want to end this year. We are still not where we need to be on a couple of things and are still improving, regardless of what the records are. We just have to keep working at it and try to get better."
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI