Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
Both the Santo Wildcats (7-6, 6-3) and Gordon Longhorns (2-9, 2-7) pulled off wins in District 10-1A play by wide margins, Tuesday, to improve their district standing as the playoffs inch ever closer.
The Wildcats got arguably the most significant win in all of District 10-1A, Tuesday, when they rolled over the Lipan Indians at home, 17-1. The win moved the 'Cats into a tie with Baird for second place in district with only five games remaining in the regular season.
Santo started the game off rather modestly, jumping out to a 4-0 lead after scoring two runs in the first and second frames. But the floodgates bursted open in the third inning, as the Wildcats unleashed an 11-run onslaught to put the game permanently out of reach.
The Wildcats' offense combined for 20 hits on the day, seven of which went for extra bases.
Four players finished 3-for-4 at the plate – Dylan Price, Garrett Nemeth, Jordon Edwards and Grant Read – while Dylan Swinney and Kyle Mercer were 2-for-3.
Nemeth supplied some power to the offense, blasting a home run and a double en route to three RBIs and three runs scored. But no one matched the run-scoring potency of Price, who had a game-high six RBIs and scored a run of his own.
Four players besides Nemeth registered a double, Tuesday, including Keith Chalker, Edwards, Read and Price. Grant Gilbert, who finished 1-for-2 with two walks, three runs and an RBI, hit the game's only triple.
As dominant as the offense was, the defense and Swinney deserve equal credit for the victory.
As the game's winning pitcher, Swinney tossed a gem, allowing one run on one hit and two walks through five innings of work. He also struck out 11 batters to keep Lipan off of the base paths for most of the evening.
With the win behind them, Santo looks forward to a game against the third-place Ranger Bulldogs, tonight, on the road. It's an equally important game as the win Tuesday, as the 'Cats try to keep their district foes at arms length to lock up second-place for some favorable playoff seeding.
The Longhorns locked up their second district win, Tuesday, in a 16-4 contest in Gordon against Palo Pinto County rivals, the winless Graford Jackrabbits.
Seth Allen was the winning pitcher in a game that started close before the 'Horns ultimately pulled away to secure the victory.
After both teams traded blows in the first inning, Gordon led only 2-1 heading into the bottom of the third, when they padded their lead with a six-run frame. Graford stormed back with three runs in the top of the fourth, cutting Gordon's lead to 8-4, but that was the closest the 'Rabbits would get to reclaiming the lead.
The 'Horns rode an eight-run bottom of the fourth to the win after a shutout top of the fifth.
"The Gordon offense was extremely productive, Tuesday night," Gordon head coach Jerry Tomlin said. "This was their best overall performance this year."
Allen's performance on the mound was key, as he struck out six and only allowed two earned runs on three hits, two walks and a hit batter in his complete game. On offense, Allen also hit a triple to contribute to the coming out party for Gordon's bats.
Right fielder Twister Brown led the way on offense, registering five RBIs and two doubles. Also providing RBIs were shortstop Seth Wheeler with three and a double, and designated hitter Humberto Estrada and catcher Tanner Jump, who each drove home two.
Xavier Castaneda also had a good day at the plate, adding a triple to his season batting stats.
Tomlin said he loved what he saw out of his young team, Tuesday, and has high hopes for their future.
"This young Gordon team continues to improve, game after game," he said. "They are playing exciting baseball right now and are going to be a threat in the second half of district and in years to come."
Gordon's season continues, today, with a challenging road trip to face the undefeated district leader, the Albany Lions. Meanwhile, Graford also draws a tough opponent in their search for their first win, as they face the Baird Bears, today, in Baird.