Yellowjackets come up short in showdown at Rains

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The Mineola Yellowjackets fell victim to Rains Wildcat hurler Brandon Bacon in an 8-4 loss Friday night in Emory. Bacon forced the Yellowjackets into eight ground-outs and six fly-ball outs while throwing six strong innings.

Mineola was looking to join Rains and Grand Saline in the top tier of the district standings, but Bacon frustrated the Yellowjackets all night. Mineola’s left-hander Cole Castleberry had a good outing, but timely hitting from the Wildcats decided the game.

After Mineola went down in order in the first, Rains collected three base hits in the bottom half and took a 1-0 lead.

Bacon plunked Castleberry to lead off the second. Conner Dobbs beat out an infield hit on a ground ball to deep short, and the Jackets had two on with no outs. Mineola stranded the runners as Bacon secured a fly ball, a strike out and a ground out to end the rally.

In the third, Mineola capitalized on Dalton Rogers’ base hit through the left side and two infield errors to take a 2-1 lead. The Yellowjackets gifted two runs back to the Wildcats in the bottom of the inning with a walk and three infield errors.

Rains recorded a run in the fourth with a score from second base after the Mineola infield could not locate a wild pitch, which had rolled to the short backstop. Going into the fifth, Rains led 4-2.

The Yellowjackets mounted a comeback. Rodgers beat out an infield hit to start the inning. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Riley Fowler. River Simonek then laced a liner into left field. Rodgers had to be held at third. With runners at the corners, Castleberry chopped a high hopper down the line to first. The Wildcat first baseman checked Rodgers at third, appeared to proceed to first for the out before turning and rifling a throw to the plate. Rodgers came bowling in from third. The catcher was on the first base side of the plate, fielded the throw and swept a backhand tag toward Rodgers. All spectators were surprised by the “out” call from the home plate umpire. It shorted the energy from the rally.

Rains put up four runs in the bottom of the sixth, which decided the game. They combined a Texas leaguer to left field, a walk and three well-struck base hits to open the lead.

The Yellowjackets managed to claw back two runs in the seventh. Thomas Hooten opened the inning with a single. Simonek’s RBI single and Conner Dobbs’ RBI double concluded the scoring on the night.

For Mineola it was a tough loss. The game was there for the taking, but inconsistent play hampered the Yellowjackets.

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