Longview Needs Win At Second-Place Rockwall to Extend Baseball Season
One week after squandering a four-run lead in a crucial 11-7 loss to rival Tyler Lee, the Longview Lobos have one more shot at extending their season.
The Lobos (14-11, 5-6) and North Mesquite (14-14, 5-6) enter Friday's regular-season finales deadlocked for the fourth and final playoff spot from District 12-5A.
Simply put: Longview needs a road win over second-place Rockwall (24-6, 8-3) to force at least a district playoff, which would take place Saturday. North Mesquite plays host to Mesquite Horn (10-11, 3-8) on Friday.
Longview coach Bernie Martinez remains confident despite a three-game losing streak.
"We are treating this game as a big game, but we want our players to realize it’s the same game they’ve been playing their whole life," he said. "I feel like last week, we were trying to make things happen too much. But the pulse is good, the players have been working hard and we’re locked in.”
The Lobos have been in each of their six district losses.
“It’s been either a certain pitch we didn’t make, or an at-bat, whether it was a bunt or just getting a hit," Martinez said. "The good thing is that every close game we’ve been in has prepared us.”
Longview has had its fair share of struggles playing on the road, but Martinez doesn't see that as an excuse, and does not believe it will impact Friday's game at Rockwall.
“Playing on the road is always a challenge; it is what it is," he said. "But at the same time, we’ve had a lot of success on the road, especially early in the year. Once we leave Longview, I just really micromanage their time when we go on the road.”
Martinez will hand the ball to senior right-hander and staff ace Spencer Barton, who did not pitch in the Lobos' 6-3 loss to Rockwall earlier in the district season.
“When Spencer is on his game, he has two great pitches -- his fastball and breaking ball," Martinez said. "Spencer is more effective against good offensive teams because of his changeup. The changeup is a great equalizer and it keeps good hitters from being overly aggressive. So I think he’s a good fit for (Rockwall).”
Rockwall has already a clinched a playoff spot and can do no better than a second-place finish, while it's "do or die" for Longview.
“Absolutely it gives us an advantage," Martinez said of Longview having more to play for on Friday. "I will say this ... (Rockwall) went to extra innings with Mesquite and Lee and lost to Horn. We outhit them when they came to our place, they’ve kinda been flirting with being upset.”
Martinez said that in the event of a fourth-place tie between Longview and North Mesquite, the coaches will meet Friday night and flip for home-and-home for the district playoff.
If Longview were to the win the flip, the game would take place at 5 p.m. Saturday at Lobo Field. And if North Mesquite wins, the game would be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Mesquite's Copeland Field.