Tyler Lee Rallies Past Longview to Clinch 12th Consecutive Playoff Berth
LONGVIEW — In order to clinch their 12th consecutive playoff berth, the Tyler Lee Red Raiders reverted to doing what they do best: the little things.
And the little things paid big dividends in the Red Raiders’ 11-7 win over Longview on Friday night at Lobo Field, a victory that secured Lee’s place in the postseason.
“This is exciting for us,” said Lee first-year head coach David Howard. “We’ve played well throughout the whole district season. We were sitting there at 6-4, losing three one-run games … you just don’t know what to expect. So to come out here at their field and beat a heck of a baseball team is huge for us.”
Lee (15-9, 7-4 in District 12-5A) trailed Longview (14-10, 5-6) 5-1 after four innings, but erupted for four runs in the fifth, five in the sixth and one more in the seventh. Much of the damage was set up by Longview’s defense mishandling well-placed bunts.
“That’s one of the things we’ve talked about being able to do, being a team that can attack you a lot of different ways,” Howard said. “Tonight we were able to do that. We bunted the ball really well and put them in some tough positions and were fortunate enough to get some breaks.”
It was a potentially crippling defeat for Longview, which is locked in a tie with North Mesquite (14-12, 5-6) for the fourth final playoff spot from 12-5A. The Lobos play at second-place Rockwall next Friday in the regular-season finale, while North Mesquite faces Mesquite Horn. Longview and North Mesquite split their regular-season matchups.
“It has been kind of a crazy district season,” Martinez said. “With Heath and Rockwall at the top, and between North and us and even Lee, it’s just been a challenge. It’s been a battle every night, which is good for Texas and good for this area to have that kind of baseball. On every given Tuesday or Friday, you don’t ever know who’s going to win.”
Tyler Jones’ two-out RBI single to center scored Ryan Rendon, who doubled, which tied the game 5-5 in the top of the fifth.
Longview came right back with a run in the bottom half to re-take the lead when Dez Chumley doubled, stole third and scored on a wild pitch.
Lee took control of the game with five runs in the sixth.
Trace Reed led of the inning with an infield single, Ross Himes then laid down a sacrifice bunt but reached safely when the throw from the Longview catcher pulled the first baseman off the bag. Zach Flanagan then dropped down a bunt single to load the bases with no outs.
Ben Romines was then hit by a pitch, and that was followed by Chandler Hill’s bases-loaded walk to give Lee a 7-6 lead. Rendon made it 8-6 with a sac fly to center. And with two outs, Marty Antilley hit a slow roller to the pitcher, whose throw sailed wide of first base and into the right-field corner, allowing two more runs to score for a 10-6 lead.
Longview made two of its six errors on the night in Lee’s five-run sixth.
“It flabbergasts me because we work on that all the time,” Martinez said. “We’re definitely a much better team defending the bunt than we have been in the past. I’m speechless as to why we couldn’t (defend it), it just didn’t happen.”
JD Cobb earned the win in relief for Lee, allowing two earned runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts in five innings.
“You have to give him credit,” Howard said of Cobb. “That’s a great team and he just pitched the mess out of it.”
Flanagan led the Red Raiders at the plate, going 4-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Reed had two hits and scored four runs, Romines had three RBIs and Rendon had two hits and drove in two.
Chumley paced Longview, going 4-for-4 with an RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base. He finished a home run short of hitting for the cycle. Tre Allen and Reid Russell each had two hits, while Ben Woolley had two RBIs in the losing effort.
Longview travels to Lufkin for a non-district game Saturday before wrapping up the regular season at Rockwall. Tyler Lee plays host to district-leading Rockwall-Heath next Friday in its regular-season finale.
District 12-5A Baseball
Tyler Lee 11, Longview 7
Lobo Field, Longview
Tyler Lee 001 045 1 — 11 11 2
Longview 032 011 0 — 7 11 6
Tyler Lee: Ross Himes, JD Cobb (3) and Tyler Jones.
Longview: Spencer Barton, Trenton Holloway (6) and Alex Clark.
WP — Cobb.
LP — Barton.
2B — Tyler Lee: Ryan Rendon. Longview: Dez Chumley.
3B — Longview: Chumley.
Records — Tyler Lee: 15-9 (7-4). Longview: 14-10 (5-6).