The Mineola Yellowjackets and Edgewood Bulldogs played one of the best baseball games of the season April 23 in Edgewood.
The Bulldogs prevailed 3-2 with a score in the bottom of the eighth.
The game pitted two hurlers in fine form: Cole Castleberry for Mineola and Cooper Hill for Edgewood. Castleberry went the distance, while Jayden Magan spelled Hill after 6 2/3 innings.
Both starters demonstrated excellent control and pitch selection.
Mineola’s Dalton Rogers rifled the first pitch of the afternoon into center for a base hit, but he was gunned down three batters later on a steal attempt. The throw nailing Rogers at second was one of several defensive gems turned in by both teams.
Rogers factored in many key plays throughout the game. In the bottom of the first, he ranged to his left to make an unassisted force out at second and pegged a strong throw to first for an inning-ending double play.
Hill set the Yellowjackets down in order in the second. Leading off the bottom half, he hit a soft liner down the left field line and tried to stretch it into a double. Mineola leftfielder Thomas Hooten nailed him at second with a laser-like throw. Castleberry gave up a one-out Texas leaguer but closed out the inning with two strike outs.
Mineola threatened in the third when Jack Heard reached on a throwing error and stole second base. With two outs, Rogers singled to right. Heard, trying to score from second, was gunned down at the plate.
Mineola set the Bulldogs down in order in the third. Heard snagged a line drive off his shoe top in a nice catch at second base.
The Yellowjackets put three runners on to start the fourth. River Simonek reached on a walk, Castleberry’s fielder’s choice forced Simonek at second, and Conner Dobbs earned a base on balls. Mineola could not capitalize however, as Bryce Strange’s hard-hit liner to right field was snagged for the third out.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Rogers made back-to-back outstanding plays at shortstop. Ranging far to the second base side of the diamond he used his angle of approach and caught a towering pop fly. Then he stabbed a line drive with a quick reaction toward third base to end the inning.
Edgewood threatened in the fifth with a lead-off double to deep leftfield. Two strike outs by Castleberry and a line out to center stranded the runner.
Rogers used his speed to beat out an infield base hit to start the sixth. The Bulldogs turned a classic 5-4-3 double play to clear the bases.
Edgewood scored twice in the bottom of the sixth. A lead-off single to left and a textbook bunt down the first base line, which went for a base hit, put two runners on. The runner at first reached third as the bunt died midway down the line. A deep ground ball to short scored the first run. The next Edgewood hitter smacked a hard line drive through the right side to put runners at the corners. A sacrifice fly to left field scored the second run.
Mineola rallied in the seventh as Hill suddenly lost control of his breaking ball. He issued a two-out walk to Strange.
Yellowjacket manager Russell Bowker sent Remington Coleman in to pinch hit. With two strikes, Coleman laced a grounder back up the middle for a base hit. Hill plunked the next hitter, loading the bases. He then hit the next hitter, making it 2-1. Edgewood called on Magan to finish the game. He walked in the second run before recording the third out of the inning.
Although Edgewood led off the bottom half with a base hit, they could not generate a rally. A fine catch by Yellowjacket catcher Jacob Dabbs behind home plate on a difficult pop up highlighted the inning.
Castleberry ripped the first pitch of the eighth to right field, and Mineola was in business. Castleberry advanced to second on a passed ball, but he was gunned down at third on a fielder’s choice after a Dabbs bunt. Mineola put a second baserunner on courtesy of a throwing error, but could not bring the run around.
In the bottom of the inning, Bulldog lead-off hitter Jordan Davison poked an 0-2 pitch to left field. An errant throw by Castleberry in fielding a bunt put a second runner on. Bulldog starter Hill managed a Texas leaguer to right field, which had just enough depth to allow the Bulldog runner to score from second, giving Edgewood a thrilling 3-2 win.