By TONY EIERDAM
FORT WORTH – How strange is the District 6-3A baseball race?
Only as strange as the Mineral Wells Rams’ 5-3 win over Fort Worth Diamond Hill here Friday night when starting pitcher Matt “Moose” Tincher not only earned the win on the hill, but was also credited with a save when he went back to the mound with MWHS holding a one-run lead and retired all four batters he faced, including three strikeouts.
The win elevates the Rams to 2-1 in district play.
Couple the MWHS win with state-ranked No. 3 Kennedale’s unlikely 6-2 loss to Castleberry – a team the Rams beat 17-0 in the district opener – and 6-3A has a four-way tie with the Rams, Kennedale, Lake Worth (who beat the Rams on Tuesday) and Springtown, a winner over Lake Worth on Friday.
The strange pitching occurrence happened in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Rams comfortably ahead, 4-0.
Rams head coach Bret Barrick, wanting to save Tincher’s arm for next week’s big games against Springtown (in a possible relief outing Tuesday) and Kennedale (in a start on Thursday) pulled the 6-5 lefty.
Diamond Hill had not touched Tincher as the Moose had not allowed a hit through five innings and issued just one free pass while striking out 12. He had retired 10 batters in a row at one point.
In a move that really didn’t surprise anyone, Barrick replaced Tincher to start the sixth with junior Chris Rapp. The move looked great as Rapp struck out the first two batters he faced.
However, on the second strikeout, the ball got away from freshman catcher Braxton Allen, allowing the batter to hustle to first base to save the out. It all fell apart from that point.
Rapp walked the next two batters, and the next batter hit a towering double that drove in two runs. In almost an instant, Diamond Hill went from a hitless, punchless squad to a team that was just down two runs.
Barrick replaced Rapp with Bob Boudreau, and on a wild pitch another Diamond Hill base runner scored to cut the lead to 4-3.
The Eagles continued to rally when the next batter reached base on a dropped fly ball, and Boudreau issued a walk to the following batter as the Eagles had runners on first and third with two outs.
Barrick called on Tincher, who had stayed in the game at first base, to get the final out of the frame. The lefty struck out the next batter to keep the Rams in front 4-3 as the game moved top the seventh inning.
With one out in the top of the seventh, third baseman Aaron Wheeler hit a key triple and scored a batter later on Dan Reay Turk’s sacrifice fly ball to increase the Rams’ lead to 5-3.
Tincher dashed the Eagles’ hopes of victory in the seventh by retiring the side in order while collecting his 14th and 15th strikeouts of the contest, along with the save.
“I am glad we came out and got the W,” Barrick said. “I think the guys are pressing a little bit on the field, at the plate and on the mound. We need to have confidence at the plate.
“We have Springtown and Kennedale next week, and anything can happen. It is a long season, and we have to play seven innings every game.”
Barrick was asked if he would do anything different in the way he handled the pitchers.
“I have no regrets at all,” he said.”There are several different scenarios going on in every inning of every game, and we are trying to best utilize our personnel for specific situations.
“It wasn’t really a huge gamble. We put Tincher back at first to keep him in the game in case we needed him back on the mound.
“Looking back, I probably should have brought him back in when it got to be 4-2, but we had two outs and a chance right there to get the third out ... you have to have confidence in all of your kids, and I have confidence in mine.
“They show up to play every night, and we are going to give them opportunities.
“It is a chess match at times,” Barrick continued. “Sometimes you make a move that works and you are a hero; and sometimes you make a move and it doesn’t pan out and you look like an idiot.
“It’s a hero or zero syndrome at times for a manager. Luckily it didn’t hurt us and we came out with a W.”
The Rams took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Brandon Martinez worked a walk and scored a batter later on a double from Colby Kissinger. Kissinger would cross the plate later after a Diamond Hill error.
The Rams took a 4-0 lead with a pair of runs in the sixth. Wheeler walked to lead off the inning and promptly stole second base. He advanced to third base when Turk followed with a base hit.
The next batter, Boudreau, drove in Wheeler with a single to center field. Turk scored three batters later on an overthrow after a dropped third strike.
By TONY EIERDAM
- Local Sports
Swimming to State
KELLER – The Mineral Wells Water Moccasins are heading to the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation's state meet in College Station, July 31-Aug. 3, after an outstanding performance in the Region 4 Championships that saw seven local swimmer qualify.
Mineral Wells summer track sends 11 to state meet after strong regionals
THE COLONY – The future continues to look bright for Mineral Wells track and field, as 11 members of legendary head coach Jackie Harvey's summer track club punched their tickets to the TAAF state meet in College Station – to be held July 31-Aug. 3 – after a dominant showing at the regional meet in The Colony, July 18-19.
FWIW: Good, clean hate – Ranking the area's best rivalry games of the 2014 football season
By CLINT FOSTER
Football season is fast approaching and with it those glorious games between teams that love to hate each other, which we call rivalries.
I'm speaking, of course, about sports hate – the only beautiful kind. It's the stuff built on history and tradition that inspires simply the fiercest and most entertaining games of every season.
Palo Pinto County and the surrounding area have no shortage of fierce football rivalries.
The University Interscholastic League's realignment often causes new rivalries to be born and old ones to be rekindled. But which rivalries are the area's very best for 2014? The one's you circle your calendar for and make sure you don't miss.
I can think of at least 10.
So, for what it's worth, here's my list of the area's best, can't-miss football rivalries of the upcoming 2014 season.
Local Bowlers Roundup set for first weekend of August
Mineral Wells Women's Bowling Alliance invites you to join them Aug. 3 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Mountaineer Lanes for their second annual Bowlers Roundup. The event will feature snacks, tips from the pros, information on league bowling and two hours of great exercise.
Something in the water
Mineral Wells is well known as the home of Crazy Water, and by all accounts the city's swim team went absolutely berserk in their one and only home meet of the summer on Saturday.
Throughout the summer, the Mineral Wells Rams have been hard at work preparing for football season.
Hooks and Slices 7/11
In the Holiday Hills Country Club Guys and Dolls tournament, locals Denny and Sherry Hall turned in rounds of 77 and 73 to take first place in the opening round and second place on Sunday in the fourth flight. George and Linda Hutton turned in two solid rounds to place both days. The twosome shot 71 and 72 to take first place on Saturday and second place on Sunday in the second flight.
GRAPEVINE – The Mineral Wells High School cheerleaders attended the Universal Cheerleaders' Association's cheer camp in Grapevine two weeks ago and proved that spirit will definitely be high at every Rams and Lady Rams sporting event this coming school year.
Millsap selects Lee as new head volleyball coach
MILLSAP – The board of trustees at Millsap ISD recently announced their hire of Denise Lee as the new head volleyball coach for Millsap High School.
Waldrum leads the way in MW's latest swim meet
TROPHY CLUB – The Mineral Wells Water Moccasins city swim team took to the pool once again June 28 and showed valiant effort against some tough competition at its latest meet in Trophy Club.
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- Swimming to State