Lindale Still Leads 16-4A After 2-0 Win Against Jacksonville
LINDALE -- The Eagles won't be catching teams off-guard once public school baseball resumes Friday.
This fundamentally sound and opportunistic Lindale team leads a tough District 16-4A at the six-day hiatus for standardized testing thanks to a 2-0 win against Jacksonville on Saturday.
"It's kind of like March Madness in our district right now," Lindale left fielder Jon French said. "Not a single team is in the predicted spot they were going to be in at the beginning of the year. We're trying to stay humble. As a team, our idea every time we step onto the field is we're playing the New York Yankees. If we're playing the Yankees, we're going to play hard and we want to beat them."
Thunderstorms in East Texas pushed most high school baseball and softball games to Saturday, but Whitehouse managed to get a Friday game in against second-place Corsicana under better conditions to the west of the region. The state's No. 9 4A team lost, 11-3.
Corsicana lost Tuesday at Lindale which gave the Eagles their district lead. With a win against Whitehouse, however, Corsicana would rejoin Lindale if Jacksonville tripped up the Eagles.
The district-leaders didn't blink when it was their turn to play.
"We preach execution and we didn't execute early with runners on base," Lindale skipper Russell Bowker said. "That's a credit to Jacksonville. Coach (Mike) Eckles does an outstanding job with his team. The kids battle hard and play fundamentally sound. They're a good baseball team. They can compete against anybody, so I told our guys we're going to have to scrap some runs against them. We got enough. It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win. And that's what we're trying to do."
The Eagles stranded five runners in scoring position through the game's first four innings.
But Lindale starting pitcher Chase Brown was clicking along. He put in 6.1 innings of work, recorded six strikeouts and allowed just five Indians on base with less than 80 pitches.
It took some good breaks and a handful of favorable calls, but the Eagles (13-4-2, 4-0) finally broke through in the fifth inning.
First baseman and TxHighSchoolBaseball.com's reigning Co-4A Pitcher of the Week Sam Sitton started things off with a presence on first base after the home plate umpire ruled a pitch had grazed him.
The call didn't sit well with Jacksonville's Eckels. He was already upset his team's momentum in the top of the fifth had been killed when a runner was picked off at first base on a call that could have gone either way.
Jacksonville thought it turned a 5-4-3 double play just after Sitton boarded the bases on the ensuing at-bat to Lindale's Kyle Bond. The batter was ruled safe at first on a fielder's choice.
Eckles, and the Indians' fans at large, grew very frustrated.
The officiating crew, simultaneously, became impatient with the protests and tossed Eckels when they sensed he was about to come out for another discussion. A fan also was warned.
Once the game resumed, Kyle Bond stole second base and Kris Bond batted him home to break the scoreless game.
Lindale added a second run in the sixth when French knocked in Bryce Duepree from third base with a fly out to right field.
"If we make a mistake and leave some runners on, we do our best the next time the runners are on to get them in," French said. "We don't want to compound the problem and make the same mistake twice. So far, it's worked great for us. That's the idea behind what we do."
There will be no public school baseball games during the early part of next week due to STAAR testing.
Lindale will resume play Friday at Nacogdoches before facing the entire district a second time to wrap up the regular season.
"We're one game at a time," Bowker said. "We've got to do what we can do, and that's coming out and competing. Throw strikes, put the ball in play, play flawless defense. We're winning ball games, close ball games. We've got three shutouts right now. We're not going to beat the ball off the wall, but we know what we can do. We've got to go to work and get better ourselves."
Lindale 2, Jacksonville 0
District 16-4A Baseball
Jacksonville 000 000 0 -- 0 2 0
Lindale 000 011 X -- 2 8 1
Pitchers and catchers
- Jacksonville: Jacob Tucker, Guadalupe Muniz (5) and Michael Sexton.
- Lindale: Chase Brown, Nash Walters (7) and Tate Coomer.
WP -- Brown.
LP -- Tucker.