CORINTH — Down a run to Azle in in the last game of the regular season, Lake Dallas’ dreams of a glorious playoff entrance turned into an agonizing season finale in the matter of seconds.
The Falcons had two runners in scoring position in the final inning, but neither of them could keep their season alive as the Hornets defeated Lake Dallas 3-2 on Friday night at Falcon Field.
“We were in the catbird seat,” Lake Dallas head coach John Tompkins said. “We didn’t get it done. We did a poor job of running the bases. We did a poor job of bunting the ball. It’s just execution, you know?
“In one-run games, you have to execute and we didn’t do it. That’s why we’re done.”
The Falcons finished the season in fifth place in District 5-4A and missed the postseason for the first time since 2009.
Lake Dallas (15-11, 7-7) entered the game needing a win that would have forced a one-game playoff against Azle (19-8, 9-5) today for the district’s fourth and final playoff spot. That outcome was rendered useless after a finish that left most Lake Dallas fans flustered and the team in tears.
In the bottom of the seventh, singles by John Shuster and Tyler Hull and a throwing error had runners on second and third for the Falcons with no outs in the inning.
With three outs to spare and Jackson Owens, a Florida State signee and the team’s leadoff batter, at the plate, Lake Dallas seemed destined to at least tie the game.
On the first pitch he saw, Owens hit a ball between second and third base. As Owens sprinted toward first, pinch runner Tony Green retreated back to third base while Hull ran toward third base.
Owens was retired, and quickly Green and Hull were stuck in no-man’s land. Green, having nowhere to go, sprinted toward home.
Azle catcher Will Bigby leaped into the air to grab the throw and applied the tag to Green, who slid head first, arms outstretched toward home plate. The umpire standing over home plate cocked his arm back, as if to briefly think things over, before calling Green out.
Christian Boulware grounded out to end the game and Lake Dallas’ season was over.
“The runner at third is going back and our runner at second ran up his back,” Tompkins said. “He had no choice but to go. We were in a pinch. So Tony did exactly what he had to do. He picked a chance to go. It’s bad base running. We didn’t do the small things right tonight.”
The loss spoiled the effort of Navarro-bound senior pitcher Keenan Wingfield. Wingfield (4-3) threw 100 pitches and struck out 10 batters in the complete-game loss for the Falcons. The senior struck out the final three batters of his high school career to give his team a shot in bottom of the seventh.
“It wasn’t sore at all,” Wingfield said of his arm. “I was ready to throw 18 innings, and I would have.”
Azle’s Colton Carpenter (7-3) threw 104 pitches in the complete-game victory. Hull and Riley Forson combined for five of the Falcons’ seven hits.
Lake Dallas had an opportunity to inflict damage in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and the top of the order at the plate, but the Falcons could only muster one run.
“We couldn’t play consistent baseball — consistent, fundamental baseball,” Tompkins said. “We could not do it. In the past we’ve been able to do it, and we weren’t able to do it this year.”
Following the game, after Wingfield had finished running in the outfield, he stopped in first-base foul territory, where Wingfield and Forson embraced each other after the duo’s final high school game.
“Every time we broke out [of a huddle] it was on ‘family,’ and we really meant it,” Wingfield said. “We were like brothers, playing for each other. It’s just unfortunate it ended early.”
AZLE 3, LAKE DALLAS 2
WP — Colton Carpenter (8-1). LP — Keenan Wingfield (4-3). 3B — A: Jesse Salisbury.