Lee wins pitchers' duel over rival MHS
2/9/2017 2:56 PM

Thursday’s night’s crosstown rivalry at Security Bank Ballpark seemed to pick up right where it left off nearly 11 months ago.

In a classic pitcher’s duel, the Lee and Midland High baseball teams zipped through six and a half innings before the drama finally arrived. With the Rebels leading 1-0, the Bulldogs had runners on first and third with no outs in the bottom of the seventh.

On an attempted safety squeeze, Tyler Klattenhoff laid down a tricky sacrifice bunt just inside the third base line. Without a second to spare, Lee catcher Colby Standard scrambled out a few feet, fielded the ball and just in time, tagged out MHS courtesy runner Michael Hailey who was charging home to tie the game.

After the frenzy, Lee starter Gunnar Blevins returned to the mound and notched a strikeout and induced a soft groundout to seal the 1-0 District 2-6A victory for the Rebels in a game that lasted just over 90 minutes.

Blevins surrendered just four hits, while striking out eight and walking three in a complete-game win for Lee (2-4, 1-0 in District 2-6A), which again opened the Tournament of Champions in emotional fashion. Brooks Betcher took the hard-luck loss for MHS (3-4, 0-1), as he allowed the game’s only run on a wild pitch in the first inning. He gave up two hits, fanned six and walked two in an 82-pitch complete game.

Lee has now won the last four meetings against the MHS, each by one run.

“This time it was one of those (games) where we ended up on the fortunate side,” Roper said. “(Blevins) has grown up and matured an awful lot as a pitcher and as a player.”

Added Bulldogs’ head coach Barry Russell: “It was a good ball game. (It) was well played, solid defensively, great defense on both sides.”

With the winning run on first for MHS, the adventure in the seventh inning was a high-pressure situation for the Rebels’ battery. Blevins had put together a stellar one-hit performance through six innings, but suddenly, back-to-back singles had the Bulldogs threatening.

On the next play, the game came down to Standard.

“I was not expecting a (squeeze) in that situation, but I just tried to relax and I made a good play luckily. Thank God for that,” Standard said.

Blevins held his breath for a couple of moments as Hailey darted down the line and the crowd rose to its feet. But he said he’s always trusted Standard to be able to make critical plays and the backstop came through in a huge way for the first out of the seventh.

“It’s crazy. I can’t even explain how happy I am that (Standard) tagged him out,” said Blevins, a senior right-hander. “It really makes you settle down a lot knowing you have a whole defense like that, that can just come out (commit) no errors and just play the game.”

Russell admitted that MHS wasn’t quite on the same page when the play broke into action.

“We botched the play,” Russell said. “We ran a safety squeeze and messed it up and we’ve been doing that all (throughout) the scrimmages and in the games. We’re not doing what we’re supposed to do. It’s not a (suicide) squeeze, it’s supposed to be a safety squeeze. We got the bunt we wanted but we just botched the play. That’s the way it goes. We still had two chances but we didn’t get it done.”

For some, the defensive play of Standard, who also threw out an MHS runner stealing second in the fourth inning, might have resembled that of former star Rebel, now Texas A&M catcher Hunter Coleman.

“It was just good instincts,” Roper said. “Colby is a competitor and there’s things he does that may not look flashy but the job he did (was great). His pitch selection tonight was outstanding.”

Sam Bertelson went 1-for-2 with a walk to lead MHS. Ty Coleman scored the winning run and also recorded a walk for Lee.

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