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Big finish moves Mesquite past Lion baseball in Arlington

When the Ennis Lions and 5A Mesquite Skeeters get together for a baseball game, decisive wins just aren’t in the cards.
In the 2007 meeting at the Ballpark in Arlington, Ennis (13-4-1) rallied from behind to pull out a 6-5 victory. The Lions and Skeeters matched up in the Mesquite Tournament several weeks ago, battling to a 3-3 tie.
On Friday, Ennis got on a roll in the middle of the game for a 6-2 lead only to see Mesquite heat up at the plate during a five-run seventh inning to emerge with an improbable 7-6 win. Though the final score didn’t fall in the Lions’ favor, they appeared to be the better team most of the night and coach Kevin Kalinec had no complaints about what was a quality high-school game in a major-league park.
“I thought it was a great game by both teams and we played well,” he said.
“We pitched well, we hit well, it just didn’t turn out right for us at the end. I’m very proud of the team. We got a lot of kids in the game and had fun.”
Ennis didn’t open up with its standard lineup as many of the normal starters waited until the bottom of the third inning before taking the field.
“We started all nine seniors and that’s something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” Kalinec said.
“It also meant some kids were playing out of position and I thought we handled it well.”
Mesquite out-hit the Lions 9-4 and also committed more errors (2-1).
Rusty Collins gave all Ennis fans a great memory when he drilled a solo shot into the left-field bleachers. Weston Montgomery’s single was the first hit of the night for Ennis, while brothers Chris Lewis (two-RBI double) and Jon Lewis (RBI triple) each put bat on ball with some authority.
Chris Lewis (6 1/3 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, 2 W, 2 HBP, 6 SO) approached a complete game, while Nathan Dixon (0 IP, 0 ER) attempted to come out with the save.
Collins (error) was the only Lion to reach base in the first inning and Lewis managed to escape a bases-loaded jam in the Mesquite first with a couple of strikeouts while Matt Gunn hauled in a fly to deep left.
Though Edward Ortiz hauled in a hard liner to center in the Skeeter second inning, Mesquite went up 1-0 on a single and an RBI double to deep left field. Third baseman Collins made a great diving grab and came up firing to almost get his man on the single.
Montgomery singled to left in the Ennis third, while Collins made the defensive play of the game in the Mesquite third.
With a runner (single) heading his way, the third baseman made another diving catch and sprang up to swat the incoming Skeeter with his glove to get the Lions into the dugout.
“Chris was working his tail off up there on the mound and I just tried to make plays behind him,” Collins said.
“Rusty probably had one of the best games of his life and he made some big-time plays at third,” Kalinec said.
“Weston is such a competitor and it’s no surprise he came up with the first hit.”
Fresh off his web gem, Collins led off the Ennis fourth with a screamer that didn’t stop until it hit some seats above the left-field fence for a 1-1 contest.
“I knew it was long enough; I was just hoping it would stay fair,” Collins said.
“It was a 3-0 pitch right where I wanted it. It’s a lot of fun for me to come play here or even watch the Rangers in this park.”
“As soon as Rusty hit it, I knew it was gone,” Kalinec said.
“I thought I might have to pull a Carlton Fisk and push it fair.”
Chris Lewis was at his best in the Mesquite fourth, sitting the home team down in order with a strikeout as teammates Collins and center fielder Nathan Dixon made plays behind him. Clayton Mummert reached base on an error to begin the fifth as Ennis took a commanding lead.
After Montgomery was hit by a pitch, Chris Lewis drilled a two-RBI double to deep left field. Mesquite made two pitching changes in the inning, but the Lions plated a third run on a passed ball for a 4-1 cushion.
“That was certainly an excellent hit by Chris with runners on base,” the coach said.
Mesquite got one back in its fifth with a single and an RBI double, but Chris Lewis continued to benefit from strong play in center as Dixon tracked down a deep fly and a hard liner.
“Nathan and Edward both did a good job in center and overall we played a good defensive game,” Kalinec said.
The Ennis offense was up to the task once again in the top of the sixth to pull farther ahead and put Mesquite on the ropes. Coming up with Mummert (hit by pitch) on base, Jon Lewis smashed an RBI triple to the wall in left center. Courtesy runner Austin Fry also made it home thanks to a passed ball for a 6-2 lead.
“Jon has worked so much on his swing and we’ve finally got him where I think he needs to be,” Kalinec said.
Lion leather was the story of the Mesquite sixth as Dixon and right fielder Corey Betik both tracked down flies, then first baseman Seth Zhanel was able to adjust and clinch a high foul pop as he was falling down.
Mesquite made yet another pitching change in the seventh and Ennis went quietly outside of Dixon being hit by a pitch.
Chris Lewis opened the bottom of the seventh with a strikeout, leaving the Skeeters with just two chances to pile up some runs. After a walk, the next four batters all connected on similar line singles for a 6-5 game. When Dixon came on in relief for Lewis, Collins’ fielder’s choice throw to second got away from him as Mesquite pulled even.
With all the momentum on their side at this point, the Skeeters completed the surprising comeback with the deciding seventh run on a passed ball.
“Chris was up over 100 pitches and he ran out of gas,” Kalinec said.
“Rusty was fantastic outside of that one play and that’s probably what he’s thinking about because he’s a team guy.”

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Posted by on Mar 24 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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