By TONY EIERDAM
LAKE WORTH – It was more than sweet revenge for the Mineral Wells Rams when they took care of Lake Worth, 8-2, here Tuesday night in a key District 6-3A game.
Not only did the victory avenge an earlier loss to the Bullfrogs, but it also gave the Rams sole possession of second place and keeps MWHS in the chase for a district title as they are only one game back of league-leading Kennedale.
The Rams were paced by two unlikely sources – a relief pitcher and a batter from the ninth spot in the order.
Pitcher Aaron Wheeler came on to relieve starter Brandon Martinez, allowing no runs and no hits with two walks and four strikeouts in 4-1/3 innings. Matt “Moose” Tincher accounted for the final four outs, including three strikeouts.
Although he did not allow a hit, Martinez walked four batters and allowed two runs in 1-1/3 innings.
“Aaron was big for us,” Rams skipper Bret Barrick said. “He is part of the team concept we have been preaching.
“Aaron got an opportunity and he stepped up for his teammates. We needed someone to throw strikes and get outs, and that is exactly what he did.”
Leading the Rams at the plate was nine-hole hitter Kristian Santibanez, who went four-for-four including two lead-off hits and a run batted in.
“Kristian was also huge,” Barrick said. “He was on base all night long and made things happen.
MWHS scored four runs in the top of the first inning for a quick 4-0 lead. Paden Patino singled in a pair of runs, and a fielder’s choice combined with an error added two more runs.
The Rams added a pair of runs in the second for a 6-0 lead.
Santibanez led off with a double and Martinez followed with a walk. Both were driven home by a single from Patino, who would finish with four RBI from the clean-up spot in the batting order.
In the bottom of the second, Martinez hit the lead-off batter and followed with a walk. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners up, but the next batter was walked to load the bases.
Martinez walked the next batter to force in a run as Lake Worth cut the lead to 6-1. It was then that Barrick lifted Martinez in favor of Wheeler.
A fielder’s choice off the bat of the next batter scored a run to cut the lead to 6-2. Wheeler retired the next batter to stop the bleeding.
The Rams closed the scoring with two runs in the fifth frame.
Wheeler led off with a single to center field and advanced to third two batters later on an error. Santibanez followed with a base hit to drive in Wheeler for a 7-2 lead, and MWHS extended the lead to 8-2 when Colby Kissinger singled home Chris Rapp, who had reached on the error.
Wheeler ran out of gas in the sixth with two outs, and Tincher came in and on one pitch forced a ground out to end the inning.
Tincher allowed a pair of hits in the seventh, but he struck out three batters to seal the win.
“We played an all-around team game,” Barrick said. “It is a team game, and the team stepped up.
“But we are going to take it one game at a time.
“Our goal is in the final game of district (April 19 at Kennedale) we want to have an opportunity for a share of the district championship.
“To do that we have to take care of each and every game before Kennedale. Right now, the most important game of the year is our next game against Diamond Hill.”
Rams notes: Due to the postponement of the second day of the District 6-3A track meet to Friday, Friday’s baseball game at home against Diamond Hill has been moved to noon on Saturday. The junior varsity game will be at 10 a.m.
Rams avenge earlier loss to Lake Worth; stay in hunt for 6-3A title
By TONY EIERDAM
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