No. 8 Lions Grind Out 10th Consecutive Victory, 4-3 Over Mineral Wells


The No. 8 Brownwood Lions continue to find ways to win as they stretched their string of consecutive victories to 10, remained undefeated in district, and expanded on their 6-4A lead with another 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Mineral Wells Rams Tuesday night at Morris Southall Field.

As was the case in the first 4-3 district meeting between the two teams at Morris Southall Field on March 5, the Lions (16-4-1, 5-0) – who reeled off the final three runs of the ball game Tuesday night – produced the decisive run in the bottom of the sixth inning against Mineral Wells (4-11-1, 1-4).

“I don’t think we wake up in the morning thinking we’re going to have all these close games,” said Lions head coach Blake Sandford. “It’s a tribute to the kids, they know how to get it done and it’s all on them. I’m really proud of their effort, proud of their competitiveness and proud of their toughness.”

Knotted at 3, the bottom of the sixth inning began with the top of the order at the plate as lead-off batter Jordyn Nickerson drew a walk against Rams relief pitcher Josh Petrie. A sacrifice bunt by David Turner moved Nickerson to second base, then Gavin Brandstetter grounded to shortstop Tyler McWhorter, but the ball was bobbled. With runners on the corners and one out, cleanup batter Logan Posey laid down a bunt in front of the pitcher’s mound that Petrie could not field cleanly, allowing the charging Nickerson to cross the plate with ease with what would be the winning run.

“We were able to execute that bunt there at the end to get that run in and that was a really good job by them,” Sandford said. ‘When you get into these ball games they’re not always going to flow the way you think they are, they just flow the way they are naturally occurring. You have to be creative and they did a good job of doing that kind of stuff.”

Austin Wright, who tossed three innings of scoreless relief to notch the victory, then retired Mineral Wells in order in the top of the seventh with a pair of strikeouts and a grounder back to the mound. Wright struck out five in relief of Noah Gonzalez, who worked four innings and surrendered three runs on five hits with five strikeouts and one walk over four frames.

“I’m proud of Noah for overcoming some of the unfortunate mistakes we made early on, and proud of the kids for overcoming some of those mistakes,” Sandford said. “Then when you can bring Austin in and he’s dealing like that, you’ve got a chance. He’s pitched a lot for us this year and been pretty successful.”

The Lions fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning as Adrian Holifield reached on a two-base error to start the game and Petrie followed with a base hit to put runners on the corner with no outs. Holifield scored the first run on the back end of a double steal with Petrie. Later in the inning, Petrie advanced to third on a single by William Holifield and later crossed the plate after a wild pitch.

Brownwood closed the gap to 2-1 in the bottom of the first as Nickerson led off with a bunt single, stole second base, then scored on an RBI single by David Turner.

Mineral Wells pushed its lead back to a pair of runs, 3-1, in the fourth as Ridge Newton led off with a single and Curry Crouch walked. With one out and runners on the corners, an RBI ground out by Braeden Wells plated Newton.

The Lions immediately answered in the bottom of the fourth to draw even as Antonio Ybarra and Nickerson both singled with one out. With two down, an RBI single by Brandstetter plated Ybarra to make the score 3-2. Then, during Posey’s at-bat, a wild pitch by the Mineral Wells starter Wells allowed Nickerson to come home with the tying run.

In other District 6-4A action Tuesday, Graham edged Stephenville, 1-0, which gives the Lions a two-game lead in the league standings with seven contests remaining. Stephenville (13-7-1, 3-2) and Graham (10-8, 3-2) are now tied for second place, with Mineral Wells in third and Glen Rose (12-9, 0-4) in fourth.

Brownwood plays the last of its three district games against Mineral Wells on the road at 7 p.m. Thursday.

“The plan is to go win,” Sandford said in regard to facing the Rams again on a short turnaround. “We’re not saving anybody, we’re going after every opponent we see and we’re going to give our best effort every game. We have to show up every day and show up ready to play every ball game. As we progress through this it becomes more difficult to stay the course when you’re getting more on top. We have to keep fighting to stay on top because everybody’s trying to get us off this little mountain, and we want to stay there.”