Playing the No. 1 team in the district magnified and multiplied the Paschal baseball team’s mistakes Saturday night.
The Panthers (11-10, 7-5 Dist. 4-6A) fell 11-4 to district-leading Arlington Martin (14-3, 11-1) as the Warriors put up eight runs in two innings to blow the game open. Paschal also aided the opposition’s cause with five errors and 11 walks.
“Good teams are going to take advantage of your mistakes,” Paschal head coach Darrell Preston said. “I’m not trying to take anything away from them, but we made it a little bit easier on them instead of making them work for it.”
Leading 3-1 through three innings, the Warriors poured on five runs in the fourth inning, three of them unearned. Two runners scored when first baseman William Floyd couldn’t handle a throw from third baseman Sergio Conchas. Another scored on an errant throw to first by pitcher Johnny Pulido as he tried to keep a runner from stealing, which brought the score to 6-1.
Tristen Lutz capped off the scoring with a two-run blast that hit the scoreboard in left field to make it 8-1.
In the bottom of the frame, Conchas cranked a leadoff solo homer on the first pitch he saw to make the score 8-2. He finished 3-for-3 with two doubles, a home run and 2 RBI. Preston said Conchas’ approach at the plate was the reason for his success.
“Sergio went up there and the first good pitch he saw, he was on it,” Preston said. “He was ready to hit it and not miss it. He had a great night offensively. It’s just, unfortunately, we didn’t have any baserunners on in front of him.”
But Lutz continued his great night at the plate in the fifth, hitting a double that brought in two runs thanks to an errant throw home. He then scored from third on a sacrifice fly by Tony Delefippo to give Martin an 11-2 lead.
“When you give good ballclubs opportunities by walking guys and making errors, a good team’s going to take advantage of those,” Preston said. “I’m not trying to take anything away from them, but those eight runs in those two innings were gifts.”
Conchas had an RBI double in the sixth and Brooks Williams had one of his own in the seventh to score the final two runs of the game and make it 11-4.
Junior pitcher Austin Smith got the start for the Panthers, but he went just two innings and allowed four walks.
Junior Eric Walker, an LSU commit and the ace of the Martin staff, started for the Warriors. Walker went six innings, giving up three runs with five strikeouts and a walk.
Martin’s Grant Jones opened up the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the second to bring Mick Skeffington in from third and make it 1-0.
Lutz hit an RBI sacrifice fly in the third to increase the Martin lead to 2-0, at which point Preston pulled Smith in favor of senior Jacob Rico. Rico then committed a balk to let Josh Watson score from third and make it 3-0. In the bottom of the third, Reese McDonald had an infield hit and then scored from third on a passed ball to pull the Panthers back within two runs at 3-1.
It was win No. 500 for Martin head coach Curt Culbertson, whose team has clinched at least a second-place finish in the district.
“I wish it didn’t have to come against us, but he runs a good program over there,” Preston said. “He’s a good coach. That’s a lot of wins, and I’m happy for him.”