The Lake Dallas Falcons didn’t appreciate how Wichita Falls celebrated its walk-off victory in their first district matchup, so they were out to send a message to the Coyotes in Tuesday’s rematch at Falcon Field.
With the Falcons on the outside of the playoff picture, heading into the game tied with the Coyotes for fifth place in District 5-4A, it was an opportunity to send messages to teams throughout the district that they are a playoff-caliber team.
The Falcons turned to starting pitcher Keenan Wingfield for his ability to deliver strikes, and he led Lake Dallas to a 7-1 victory.
“I think we needed to send a little message, because we really want to get into the playoffs,” Wingfield said. “It was a little message to ourselves and to the other teams, especially this team [Wichita Falls]. We are a little bit of rivals and a little drama happened last game. We felt disrespected because they dogpiled in the first round of district. We wanted to come out and get them.”
The Falcons (14-10-2, 6-6 district) came alive on offense to support Wingfield, who pitched 7 2/3 innings. The only scoring play he allowed was a first-inning RBI double to cleanup hitter Garron Bates.
Early in the game, Wingfield was hit in the leg by a comebacker. He walked it off, threw a few practice pitches to see if he was still good to go, and proceeded to shut down the Wichita Falls offense.
“It was a good stinger,” Wingfield said. “It kind of woke me up a little bit. I knew they were solid; I just needed to bear down a little more. My coach videoed me in the beginning of the game and he let me know that I need to stay tall. So I started staying tall, and that’s when I started nailing the zone and throwing more downhill.”
After Wingfield made the changes to his delivery, things seemed to run more smoothly. He finished the game getting stronger and more accurate with each passing inning, striking out four of the last five hitters he faced.
“He kind of settled in after the first inning,” Lake Dallas coach John Tompkins said. “His velocity came up, his command got better and we squared the ball up early. He’s a mechanical guy. I told him he was getting collapsed on his back side and he couldn’t get the ball out front. We talked about it in the dugout, and he was able to feel it and make the adjustment. He knows his body and he knows his mechanics.”
Lake Dallas’ TJ Sullivan had a productive night at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. The Falcons got a 3-for-4 performance out of Riley Forson, who like Wingfield and Danny Drozd had an RBI.
After surrendering a run in the top of the first, the Falcons answered with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Sullivan’s two-out single to left gave Christian Boulware enough time to get to third base, and an error by left fielder Pryor Johnson allowed him to score to tie the game.
Wingfield hit a single up the middle of the infield to score Sullivan and give the Falcons the lead. Drozd then singled to right to set up Forson for an RBI single.
Sullivan added a bases-loaded RBI groundout in the second inning to extend the Falcons’ advantage to 4-1.
“The guys squared the ball up early,” Tompkins said. “We haven’t been good offensively like we are capable of this year. That’s why we are in the boat we are in. We are trying to take some of the thinking out of it and just tell them to believe in what their doing and that we [coaches] have confidence in them.”
Wichita Falls (16-8, 5-7) looked poised to strike in the third after Johnson’s bunt down the third base line went for a single. Johnson stole second base and Bucky Daws singled to left. However, Bates was coerced into an inning-ending 6-3 double play.
After Lake Dallas leadoff hitter Jackson Owens reached on an infield hit to start the fourth and later advanced to third, Sullivan drove in the Falcons’ fifth run with a sacrifice fly to center. The Falcons got five runs off the starter, Daws, who gave up five runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.
The Falcons added two runs in the sixth, with Drozd’s RBI infield single making it 6-1 and a wild pitch by reliever Kade Hutchins allowing the seventh run to score.
With the victory, the Falcons kept their heads above water in the playoff pool, but may still need help to claim the last spot.
“We told our kids that we have to win out and get a little help,” Tompkins said. “[Trophy Club] Byron Nelson has to lose a game or Azle has to lose two. It sucks to not control your own destiny, but we are in the hole that we dug. We have to take care of what we can take care of and pray to the baseball gods for some help.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873.
LAKE DALLAS 7, WICHITA FALLS 1
WP — Keenan Wingfield. LP — Bucky Daws. 2B — W: Garron Bates. LD: TJ Sullivan.