A crooked number hung in the top of the seventh inning completed a come-from-behind win for the Waxahachie Indian baseball team Friday night against rival Midlothian.
The Panthers took an early one-run lead and later led 2-0 before Waxahachie— led by Peyton Graham at the plate — plated four runs over the final two innings for the 4-2 win.
“I’m proud of my baseball team tonight and there was no quit over here," Waxahachie head baseball coach Tracy Wood said.
“We grinded and hit some balls right at them. We got no-hit for a long time there," he added. "[…] But then we got some big hits and this team has improved immensely when it comes to that part of the game. Nothing to do with baseball but just grinding and staying with it and that is what I am proud of.”
The victory sealed the regular-season sweep for the Tribe over the Panthers. Waxahachie won game one of the series at home Monday night, 3-1.
Sage Hampton earned his first-career win on the mound after he worked a scoreless inning in relief of Trevor Mott.
Hampton entered the bottom of the sixth inning with the Indians trailing 2-1. Waxahachie then plated three runs in the top of the seventh inning.
“We knew Sage was on the bench tonight, and we knew that the plan was going to be him and Parker, but we didn’t know which order we were going to go," said Wood of the decision to use Hampton in a one-run game. "Coach [Jim] Miller made the call on the order, and he (Sage) did a great job coming into a tight situation and just threw strikes. He attacked the strike zone and let them try to put balls in play.”
Hampton handed the ball off to Parker Renfro in the seventh, who earned his third save of the season and second of the series.
Caden Hawkins took the loss for the Panthers after he tossed 6.1 innings of four-hit baseball. Drake Girard came on in relief and allowed two inherited runners to score plus a third.
Both teams recorded six hits but the Panthers stranded seven base runners to the Indians' four.
Peyton Graham finished 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs batted in, one run scored and his first-career home run as an Indian. Graham is now hitting .389 in district play with a .556-slugging percentage and 1.056 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS).
“To say that we need Peyton Graham to be good is an understatement," Wood said. "We all understand that he is a fantastic baseball player with tons of talent but this game is cruel. It is not going to happen for you all of the time so you have to grind and stay with it. I’m proud of that.”
Tyler Spain made a spectacular diving grab in centerfield to keep Hawkins perfect through three innings.
Unfortunately, the sledding was not quite as smooth for Mott.
The Indian starting pitcher surrendered a first-inning run following a Josh Tankersley (2-3, 2R, BB) single to right field, Girard (1-2, BB) double, and Waxahachie fielding error.
In total, he stranded three runners on base over the first two innings and then found himself in quite the predicament in the bottom of the third.
Midlothian loaded the bases with one out and the heart of the batting order headed to the plate.
That was when Jonathan Little ripped a two-strike fastball down the third base line and into (and then out of) the glove of Will Morgan. With the Panther runner caught off the bag, Morgan picked up the ball, tagged him out and eventually touched third base for the unassisted double play to end the inning.
Peyton Graham (3-4, HR, 2 RBI, R) led off the Waxahachie half of the fourth inning with the first Indian hit of the ballgame — a single looped into centerfield. Graham was erased off of the base paths via a fielder's choice, and the Indians went away quietly still trailing, 1-0.
The Panthers added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Tankersley led off with a seven-pitch walk and was moved into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Jett Johnson (2-3, RBI) then roped a single right by Ryan Allen at first base to easily plate Tankersley for a 2-0 Midlothian lead.
Mott stranded Johnson at first base when he recorded the third out by way of his fifth strikeout. It was the last batter Mott faced on the evening, as he exited having allowed two earned runs on five hits and five walks.
Waxahachie finally got onto the scoreboard in the top of the sixth inning when Graham drove a solo home run over the left-field fence. The round-tripper was the fifth of the year for the Indians.
Sage Hampton came on in relief for the Tribe in the bottom of the sixth inning. He worked a clean half-inning to send the Indians into the seventh inning still down 2-1.
Joey Trevino (1-3, R) hit a one-out single sharply into left field to put the go-ahead run at the plate. Allen followed suit with a full-count single through the right side of the infield to chase Hawkins from the ballgame.
Hawkins struck out four, walked one and allowed just three hits over his 6.1 innings of work. He gave way to Girard on the bump with Indians on first and second.
In what is becoming a reoccurring theme this season for the Tribe, Jovanny Mijares delivered. After the Waxahachie second baseman fouled off two fastballs in a full count, Mijares (1-3, 2B, RBI, R) dumped an opposite-field double into right field to score Trevino.
Back-to-back walks issued to Juan Hernandez and Aaron Tesei gave the Indians their first lead of the ballgame, 3-2.
Graham came through again for the Indians at the plate with a single back through the middle to tack on another run. An Indian base runner was gunned down at the plate on the same play to end the Indian half of the seventh inning with the Tribe up, 4-2.
Parker Renfro, the not-yet-officially-anointed Indian closer, came on in the bottom of the seventh with a chance to pick up his third save of the season. He worked around a well-placed bunt for a hit and struck out the final Panther batter of the ballgame for the 4-2 Waxahachie win.
Midlothian fell to 11-6 on the season and 3-3 in district action.
Waxahachie improved to 10-9-1 on the season and 5-1 in District 10-5A. The Indians will face Mansfield Legacy in a two-game series next week. Game one is Tuesday in Mansfield and game two Friday in Waxahachie.
“They will be good, and there is no doubt about that," Wood said. "They split with Midlothian. It’ll be a big series, but they are all big.”
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith