Article:    
HS BASEBALL: MHS halts Lee's streak, wins thriller in extras
4/3/2017 9:00 AM

Jaxon Hallmark and the Midland High baseball team had enough of losing to their crosstown rivals. The bitter pill of five straight defeats against Lee was beginning to wear on the Bulldog players.

After falling 13-7 to the Rebels Friday afternoon at Zachery Field, MHS banded together and conjured a wild 8-7 District 2-6A victory in nine innings at Ernie Johnson Field on a riveting afternoon that will surely be remembered as a classic in the rivalry.

Hallmark got the start and pitched into the eighth inning before reaching the 110-pitch cap. He allowed four runs (three earned) on 11 hits, while striking out six and fired 80 strikes for the Bulldogs (10-12, 4-3 in District 2-6A).

After the win, Hallmark tipped his cap to the Lee players and commended the resiliency of his own teammates in such a trying game. He said the Bulldogs’ true desire and character underscored the win.

“We’ve got a bitter taste in our mouths,” Hallmark said. “We’ve lost the last five games to those guys. It would have been easy to give up, but these guys, they’ll run through a wall to get a win. I feel like we showed that today.”

Added Lee head coach Brian Roper: “It was a classic. Hats off to (MHS head coach Barry Russell’s) guys. Those guys played terrific. I expected nothing less from those kids when they come out, to give us that kind of game. I told Barry that no matter what it is, we learn so many lessons from the (MHS-Lee) game and it’s one of those life changers.”

In what started as a relatively quiet offensive game, Hallmark helped MHS take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first with a two-out triple to right center. He then came in to score on a Lee error to pull MHS ahead. The Rebels (7-13, 4-3 in District 2-6A) later took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third after a pair of singles and miscues in left field.

In the fifth, the Bulldogs restored their one-run advantage against Lee starter Gunnar Blevins on a sacrifice fly to right center by Sam Bertelson, as well as an executed squeeze play that scored Michael Hailey from third.

Blevins was relieved by John Wuthrich with two outs in the top of the sixth. He allowed three unearned runs on four hits and struck out four.

The real excitement began in the seventh.

Hailey, who reached on a two-out double to left, stole third base and was allowed to score after an interference call on Rebel third baseman Adam Becker.

Staked to a 4-2 lead, Hallmark took the mound for the bottom half, but with one out, surrendered a game-tying, majestic two-run blast to left center by Wuthrich.

In the top of the eighth, Tyler Klattenhoff’s RBI single up the middle handed the Bulldogs a 5-4 lead, before Logan Hatfield’s sac fly made it 6-4.

 “All year, (Russell) has been preaching ‘Seek out good pitches, hit a pitch in your zone’ and that’s what I’ve been looking for. It helped us in this game.”

But Lee answered for a second time in the home half and knotted the game at 6-6 on RBI singles by Ty Coleman and Becker. Coleman, the winning run, rounded third hard on Becker’s liner to center, but was thrown out by Chris Sims in center on a bang-bang play at home to keep the game tied.

“I’m really proud of how we didn’t let down either,” Roper said. “We came back twice from two runs (down).”

Klattenhoff forced the issue again in the top of the ninth, after he reached on a throwing error at shortstop that plated two more Bulldog runs.

In the bottom of the ninth, Bertelson, MHS’ third pitcher of the game, finally locked down the win with a strikeout.

Russell said the game was a fantastic experience for both the Bulldogs and Rebels and added that each side left the field a better team because of it.

“It was a great ball game,” Russell said. “I told coach Roper that and he thought it made both of us way better. I told my guys I was proud of them because it would have been very easy for us to just mail this in (Saturday) after what happened (Friday). We battled back and I hope we grew up a lot today. As upset as I was with our performance (Friday), I am that excited about how we played (Saturday).”

Hailey, who faced four batters in the eighth in relief of Hallmark, went 3-for-5 with two runs for MHS; Brooks Betcher went 2-for-4 with two runs, while Hallmark finished 1-for-3 with the triple, run and two walks.

Wuthrich led the Rebels by going 3-for-4 with the home run, two RBI, two runs and a walk; Coleman was 2-for-5 with the RBI and a run, while Becker, Blevins and Jaime Laredo each collected two hits for Lee.

Follow Will on Twitter: @Will_MRT

MIDLAND HIGH 8, LEE 7, 9 INNINGS

MHS      100         020         122         --8          10           4

Lee         002         000         221         --7          13           3

Jaxon Hallmark, Michael Hailey (8), Sam Bertelson (8) and Sam Matchus. Gunnar Blevins, John Wuthrich (6) and Colby Standard. W -- Bertelson. L -- Wuthrich. 2B -- MHS: Michael Hailey; Lee: John Wuthrich. 3B -- MHS: Jaxon Hallmark. HR -- Lee: John Wuthrich.

Records: MHS 10-12, 4-3 in District 2-6A; Lee 7-13, 4-3 in District 2-6A

Next: MHS at Odessa Permian, 4:30 p.m.; Amarillo Tascosa at Lee, 4:30 p.m.

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