Will Bradshaw Pitches Longview Past North Mesquite + Into Playoffs
LONGVIEW — Longview successfully navigated a seemingly never-ending wave of road blocks over the final two weeks of the regular season to even get in position for the playoffs.
The Lobos finally cleared the final hurdle Saturday evening at Lobo Field.
Will Bradshaw pitched six shutout innings, Dez Chumley tripled and drove in two runs and Longview defeated North Mesquite 3-0 to clinch the final playoff berth from District 12-5A.
Longview (15-12) enters the postseason as the fourth seed from 12-5A and will face District 11-5A champion Garland Naaman Forest next week in a Class 5A Region II bi-district playoff series. Game 1 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Longview, while Game 2 will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at Naaman Forest. If a third game is needed, it will follow the conclusion of the second game.
For a moment Friday night, it seemed all would be lost for Longview, which dropped its regular-season finale to Rockwall after officials stopped the game in the fourth inning following the ejection of both Martinez and his assistant coach. It was the Lobos’ fourth consecutive loss, but Longview got a break when North Mesquite (14-16) also lost Friday to force the district playoff.
“It’s been kinda crazy,” Martinez said. “It’s been down to the last pitch, the last game. Nothing comes easy for us. There’s always been a challenge or an obstacle ahead of us, and I just try to keep them motivated to keep fighting.”
Bradshaw wasn’t overpowering, striking out just three, but did his best work with men on base. After needing only eight pitches to get through the first inning in order, Bradshaw stranded at least one North Mesquite runner in scoring position in each of the next five innings.
“He definitely has the tools to pitch well,” Martinez said of Bradshaw, who allowed just three hits on the night. “With him being young, it’s hard to be consistent. But he gave us what we needed today … he minimized the walks and hit-by-pitches and we made plays.”
Bradshaw began the seventh inning, but was pulled in favor of staff ace Spencer Barton after issuing a leadoff walk to Brandon Hickman. Barton, who started Friday’s game, struck out the next two hitters before walking Cameron Henderson to bring the tying run to the plate.
Barton then got Thomas Oberg to swing at a pitch in the dirt for the third strike, ending the game and beginning a Longview celebration in the middle of the diamond.
“The postseason is a brand new start, everybody’s starting 0-0,” Martinez said moments before his players showered him with a cooler of ice water. “I have confidence in my ball club, I think we have a good ball club. I don’t think we’re indicative of a 5-7 district team, so a fresh start is all we need and we’re going to go after it.”
Chumley, a sophomore right fielder, starred both at the plate in the field for Longview on Saturday. He had RBIs in each of his first two-at bats — the second of which coming on a triple to the left-center field gap — and cut down a tagging North Mesquite runner at the plate to help the Lobos escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam and perserve a scoreless tie in the top of the third.
“You need talent, you need athletes,” Martinez said of Chumley, who is also Longview’s starting quarterback in football. “The more athletes you have on the field, the better chance you have to make things happen, and Dez is one of those.”
With the bases full, North Mesquite’s Hunter Benavidez hit a fly ball down the line in medium right field. Chumley made the catch and fired a one-hop strike to catcher Alex Clark, who applied the tag on Henderson.
“We work on that a lot, so I had confidence that if (Chumley) got underneath he’d make a play,” Martinez said. “And Alex Clark did a great job with the catch-tag, it wasn’t easy. It’s good to see my kids see that when we work on stuff, it will matter down the road.”
Longview took a 1-0 lead in the first when Chumley’s grounder to short brought in Barton, who singled, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. The Lobos made it 3-0 in the third on Chumley’s RBI triple and Alec Bradshaw’s run-scoring single to center.
Alec Bradshaw, Clark and Jared Pauley had two hits apiece as part of Longview’s eight-hit attack.
Longview 3, North Mesquite 0
District 12-5A Baseball Playoff
Lobo Field, Longview
North Mesquite 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
Longview 102 000 x — 3 8 3
North Mesquite: Dennis Harper, Thomas Oberg (5) and Dillon Brown. Longview: Will Bradshaw, Spencer Barton (7) and Alex Clark.
WP — Bradshaw.
LP — Harper.
S — Barton.
2B — North Mesquite: Tyler Starks. Longview: Clark.
3B — Longview: Dez Chumley.
Records — North Mesquite: 14-16. Longview: 15-12.