Seventeen runners were left stranded on base Monday night at Paul Richards Park in game one of a two-game set between the Waxahachie Indians and Midlothian Panthers.
Luckily for the Indians, a misplayed bloop and a couple of timely hits were enough to support Will Morgan on the mound. Waxahachie picked up its fourth-consecutive District 10-5A win, 3-1.
Waxahachie head baseball coach Tracy Wood said he was proud of the way the Indians competed. He also noted frustration with the lack of execution at the plate with runners in scoring position.
"The positive is that we competed and we won a baseball game against Midlothian, and we are up one [game] on them," Wood said. "The negative is we still left a lot of guys on base. And that is what I want to correct, and that is what I want to do. We had opportunities to get it done with just bunts.
"We have to do a better job of that. But just the fact that we competed the way we did was a great job. It'll be a war when we go over there, too."
Wood added, "We competed, especially Will. I don't know how many leadoff [runners] got on, but he competed every time. Parker Renfro was huge for us again."
The Indians, who are now 9-9-1 on the season and 4-1 in District 10-5A, are back to .500 for the first time defeating Corsicana (5-0) March 1. Waxahachie fell as many as four games under .500 two different times, which included dropping five out of six ball games March 2—9.
Midlothian fell to 11-5 on the season with the loss and 3-2 in District 10-5A.
Morgan (4-1, 1.52 ERA) was not quite as sharp as he was last Tuesday against Red Oak but the right-handed hurler managed to work his way through five innings with seven strikeouts, four walks and three hits surrendered. The lone run — which came in the fourth inning courtesy of an Indian error — was unearned.
Morgan has now struck out 37 batters in his 32.1 innings pitched this season (8.0 K/7) and issued 11 walks (2.4 BB/7).
Waxahachie sent eight batters to the plate in the bottom of the third inning to jump on the board first.
Peyton Graham drew a one-out walk and Campbell Sullivan (1-for-3, RBI, BB) followed with a single back up the middle. Morgan then walked, and Joey Trevino (1-for-2, BB) and Ryan Allen (1-for-2, RBI) both singled for a 2-0 Waxahachie lead.
Jett Johnson (1-for-2, BB) singled through the middle of the Indian infield to open the top-half of the fourth inning. He scored the lone Midlothian run of the ballgame on an Indian two-out throwing error three batters later.
In the top of the fifth inning, Morgan induced a weak rollover to Allen at first base for out number one. Joey Trevino then charged a dying fly ball to left field and made a nice diving catch on his glove-hand side for the second out.
The two outs in the top of the fifth inning marked the second time on the evening Waxahachie retired the first two batters of an inning. It was also just the second time for Morgan to retire the first batter of an inning, with the other instance coming in the second inning after a lineout to Allen and eight-pitch punchout.
Morgan followed the quick work by hitting a snag in his groove on the bump and walked each of the next two Panthers. The loss of command forced Wood to begin double-barrel action in the bullpen with a pair of relievers. It also drew a long, slow walk to the mound from special assistant coach Jim Miller.
A 2-2 curveball in the dirt drew a flailing Panther swing for the third out. Waxahachie escaped with its 2-1 lead intact as the Tribe headed to the bottom of the fifth inning.
It was the last batter Morgan faced. He exited after five innings of work with seven strikeouts.
Trevor Renfro came on in relief in the top of the sixth inning after the Indians were retired in order in their half of the fifth.
Renfro sandwiched a swinging strikeout between a pair of ground balls handled cleanly by Jovanny Mijares at second base.
The Indians put the first two runners on base via base on balls to start the bottom of the sixth inning, chasing Blake Bolgiano from the bump.
Drake Girard relieved the Midlothian starter and promptly walked Mijares (1-for-2, 2B, BB) to load the bases full of Indians.
Graham grounded into a one-out fielder's choice to plate Juan Hernandez (1-for-2, BB) from third base for a 3-1 Waxahachie lead. Girard retired the next Indian batter to end the Waxahachie threat with two runners stranded on the base paths.
Waxahachie left nine runners aboard, while the Panthers stranded eight.
Renfro worked a quick seventh inning to close the door on his second-consecutive and first-career six-out save.
Weather permitting, the Indians and Panthers will conclude their district series Thursday at 7 p.m. The game could be pushed to Friday, if needed.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith