GRAPEVINE — Lake Dallas senior Jackson Owens did everything he could to make sure Saturday was not his final high school game.
In more than one way, Owens was the reason Lake Dallas was still playing in the bottom of the ninth inning against Birdville in Game 3 of a Class 4A Region I bi-district playoff series. And if Birdville senior Juan Florez had hit the ball two feet to the left of Owens, he might have been able to keep the Falcons in the game for another at-bat.
But Florez’s infield single between second and third base gave Birdville a 4-3 win at Grapevine to give the Hawks the best-of-three series, eliminating Lake Dallas from the postseason.
Owens, who moved back to shortstop after 5 1/3 innings of relief pitching, dived to the left to knock down Florez’s single. Owens succeeded, but with the bases loaded and one out, he couldn’t get the out at home. The ball was plucked out of the infield dirt long after the Hawks had started celebrating and the Falcons were doubled over.
“It’s just so tough,” Owens said. “I think we all thought we had the game in the bag after we went up in whatever inning that was. [Lake Dallas] coach [John] Tompkins told us all season it’s been adversity. We did our best. That’s a good team.”
The Florida State signee and the Falcons’ starting shortstop pitched five innings of relief for Lake Dallas (16-17). When he came on in the bottom of the third, Birdville had tied the game at 2 to counter Will Lipsey’s two-run double that gave the Falcons a two-run lead in the top of the inning, and the Hawks (21-8-1) were threatening to score more runs.
The four-year starter stepped to the mound with the bases loaded and two outs. He sat down Birdville’s Rigo Franco on three pitches — the last one a fastball Franco waved at — to get out of the inning.
Lake Dallas took a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth, taking advantage of a Lipsey single and two Birdville errors to give Owens a lead to work with.
That lead was gone in the bottom of the seventh. Birdville’s Will Hayward — the No. 9 hitter — hit a leadoff home run well over the left-center field wall to tie the game. It was Hayward’s second home run of the year.
Lake Dallas couldn’t get anything going off Birdville’s Game 1 starter, junior reliever Jordan Martinson, and the Hawks got the game-winning run in the ninth on Florez’s single.
After the game, Tompkins and his team consoled each other. Before Tompkins stepped back into the dugout, he patted Owens on the chest.
“Thank you,” Tompkins said, “for everything.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter @Ben_Baby.
Birdville 4, Lake Dallas 3 (9)
WP — Jordan Martinson. LP — Jackson Owens. 2B — LD: Will Lipsey. B: Tanner Blessing. HR: Will Hayward. Records — Lake Dallas (16-17), Birdville (21-8-1).