There’s just something about the Lake Dallas-Denton Guyer baseball rivalry that brings out the best in both teams.
When the two teams played less than a month ago at Lake Dallas, it was a classic pitcher’s duel between Guyer’s Jud Kinzy and Lake Dallas’ Keenan Wingfield. The Falcons won the game when Wingfield scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Wingfield factored into Friday’s District 5-4A rematch at Guyer as well, but with a different outcome. Pitching in relief of a stellar performance by starter Michael Cox, Wingfield’s wild pitch to pinch hitter Luke Cullum allowed Kyle Walsh to score from third base in the bottom of the seventh to lift the Wildcats to a 2-1 win.
“We definitely knew coming into this that it would be a playoff atmosphere and it would be a close game,” said Guyer coach Johnny Kinzy. “Late in the year, they’re all big games. As long as we score one more run than our opponent, we’ll take it.”
Domenic Pickering drew a lead-off walk against Cox to start the bottom of the seventh. Lake Dallas coach John Tomkins decided to bring in his ace Wingfield — both a strong pitcher and fielder off the mound in anticipation of a bunt. With pinch runner Kyle Walsh at first, Wingfield was called for a balk, moving Walsh to second. Daulton Horton, who tied the game for Guyer in the fifth with a home run, bunted to move Walsh to third.
Kinzy then called on Cullum, a freshman making his varsity debut, to pinch hit. But Wingfield’s first pitch, a slider, bounced into the dirt and to the backstop, allowing Walsh to score the winning run.
The victory marked the third straight one-run district win for the Wildcats (12-15 overall), who remain atop the district standings at 8-3 with Wichita Falls Rider, which defeated Azle 9-6 in eight innings. Three games remain in district play. Guyer is at Rider on Tuesday.
Horton was the difference at the plate for the Wildcats, who were hitless against Cox through 3 2/3 innings. By then, Lake Dallas had pushed one run across, a run-scoring single by John Schuster in the third inning.
But Horton put the Wildcats back in the game when he lifted a one-out, 1-2 pitch from Cox over the left-center fence in the fifth inning. It was his first career home run. Horton, a junior first baseman, then provided the key sacrifice in the bottom of the seventh that moved Walsh to third base.
“[Cox] left one over the middle,” said Horton. “I didn’t think it was going over. I just sprinted out of the box. But it felt pretty good, I’m not going to lie. He’s a good pitcher, really tough, but we just kept getting on top of the plate.”
Kinzy was not surprised by Horton’s effort.
“Once he became a starter, he has not had a bad at-bat,” Kinzy said. “He’s got some pop. If they miss, he’ll make a play on the ball. He’s always ready to hit the ball hard.”
Cox pitched an outstanding game for the Falcons. He was consistently throwing first-pitch strikes and stayed ahead of the batters. He struck out 10, allowed just three hits and walked two in throwing 88 pitches.
“Cox threw the ball well. He deserved to win that game,” said Tompkins.
Lake Dallas had an opportunity early to get to Guyer start Kyle Vochoska. Tyler Hull drew a leadoff walk in the third, Danny Droz singled, and Hull scored on Schuster’s single to left. With one out, Droz and Hull advanced on a sacrifice and Kinzy called to intentionally walk Jackson Owens to load the bases. Cox then drilled a 1-2 fastball up the middle that literally took Vochoska’s glove off. But the deflection was enough to keep the ball in the infield. Vochoska recovered behind the mound and made a desperate throw to Horton at first, just getting Cox.
The Falcons left six runners on base and that, Tompkins said, has been a problem.
“We’re hitting something like .218 with runners in scoring position,” he said. “We can’t do that. We’re struggling producing offense and that’s been the telltale for us.”
The loss drops Lake Dallas (12-10-2 overall, 5-6 in district) deeper into the middle of the pack, tied for fifth with Wichita Falls.
“We’re playing for our lives,” Tompkins said. “Every game we play from here on out is a playoff game. If we win two, maybe we get in a play-in. If we win three, we have a good shot.”
Vochoska went the distance for the Wildcats, allowing six hits, striking out seven (including the final three batters he faced), and walking two.
GUYER 2, LAKE DALLAS 1
WP – Kyle Vochoska. LP – Michael Cox. HR – Daulton Horton. Records – Lake Dallas 12-10-2, 5-6; Guyer 12-15, 8-3.