LAKE DALLAS — When the seventh inning rolled around, most of the Lake Dallas Falcons that started the game on the field were leaning over the green railing in their first-base dugout.
Instead of putting his starting lineup on the field, Lake Dallas head coach John Tompkins instead trotted out those who had been leaning over the railing for the past six innings and watched the Trophy Club Bobcats build a commanding lead in the District 5-4A game.
The drama regarding the final outcome was decided well before the seventh inning. In a tightly contested district, Nelson picked up a valuable 9-1 victory against Lake Dallas on Friday night at Falcon Field. Rain had washed out play all week for the Falcons, who will play Denton at noon today, a game rescheduled three times this week because of the rain.
Nelson starting pitcher John Caskey washed out Lake Dallas’ bats and allowed four hits in the complete-game victory. For the Falcons, the lack of hitting has been a pattern the team has failed to break, so far.
By the time Lake Dallas scratched a run in the bottom of the fifth, the Bobcats were ahead by six runs.
“We’re not good enough offensively to chase,” Tompkins said. “We haven’t been good enough offensively all year to try and chase six runs. We can’t do that.”
With a win today against Denton, Lake Dallas (11-8, 4-4 district) will tie the Bobcats (15-7, 5-4 district) for fourth place in 5-4A. Both teams trail Guyer, Azle and Wichita Falls Rider, all three teams tied for first.
The chase begin early when the Bobcats used two bunts and a couple of stolen bases to pull ahead 3-0 against Lake Dallas starting pitcher Keenan Wingfield (4-2), who allowed six earned runs in five innings.
Caskey started for the Bobcats for the first time in district play after pitching in relief for much of the year, Nelson head coach Mike Killian said. Caskey didn’t pitch with a high velocity but was still able to keep Lake Dallas from puncturing the Bobcats’ defense.
Caskey’s only struggles came in the fifth, when he allowed the Falcons’ only run on a walk and three hits.
Falcons catcher Christian Boulware went 1-for-2 with an RBI to lead the home team. Tompkins said the difference between his team and Killian’s team was their mental approach at the plate.
“Man, we have hit and hit and hit. I’ve hit more with this group than I have any of the six years here,” Tompkins said. “And it’s not our mechanics. It’s their mental approach.
“Look at it tonight. Byron Nelson — fastball count, whack! They’re getting after it. They’re aggressive. They’re probably the best hitting team in the district. Our approach — fastball count, we take.”
The top four batters in the lineup for Lake Dallas went 2-for-11. Falcons shortstop Jackson Owens, who has orally committed to Florida State, went 0-for-3 in the leadoff spot. Tompkins said throughout the year, productivity in the lineup has suffered.
“We have guys that need to hit that have not hit — all year they have not hit. Guys in the middle of our order that we’re leaning on to hit, they have not hit,” Tompkins said. “Therefore, our team has not gone. I don’t know how many runs we’re averaging a game. I wouldn’t think it’s over three, four runs a game.”
Killian was pleased with the way Caskey (1-3) came in and pitched on Friday night, and commended his work ethic, which included Caskey running near the outfield wall after the game while the rest of his teammates were celebrating the win.
It’s a much-needed win for Nelson with five teams all near the top of the district and fighting for four playoff spots.
“This is about a competitive a district as I’ve ever seen,” Killian said. “Everybody can beat everybody on every given night. We were fortunate to come over here and play well.”
Lake Dallas will find itself fortunate to have its bats pick up and produce runs during the second half of the district schedule, where wins will continue to be at a premium in 5-4A.
“If we don’t start to hit, we won’t play much longer,” Tompkins said. “If we don’t find a way to build some confidence and believe what we’re doing, it’s going to be tough for us to get in [the playoffs].”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.
TROPHY CLUB NELSON 9, LAKE DALLAS 1
WP — John Caskey (1-3). LP — Keenan Wingfield (4-2). 2B — N: Ryan Romero, Jeff Walburn. 3B — N: