By JUSTIN RAINS
With a chance to move within a half-game of district-leading Rusk Tuesday, the Palestine baseball team saw its late-inning rally fall short.
In the process, the Wildcats not only fell to 2.5 games behind district-leading Rusk, but saw rival Fairfield climb to within a game of them for District 19-3A’s final playoff spot.
Visiting Rusk scored in all but one of the game’s seven innings, including three runs in both the third and the fourth, to run out and then hold on for an 11-7 victory over the Wildcats.
The Palestine loss, combined with Fairfield’s 14-4 defeat of Groesbeck, tightens up the race for the second and third playoff spots in the district.
Groesbeck entered the day a half game ahead of Palestine, and with both losing, the Goats stay there. Groesbeck is now 6-4 in district, while Palestine is 5-4. With their win, Fairfield is now 4-5.
Palestine and Rusk traded runs in the first inning, with Palestine’s Zane Worsencroft scoring after being hit by a pitch in the knee and moving to second on a wild pitch.
The newcomer then stole third and scored on a throwing error by the Rusk catcher, who was trying to gun him down.
But, while Rusk kept scoring, Palestine couldn’t. At least for a while.
Rusk added a run in the second and three in the third to go up 5-1, but Palestine seemed primed to answer right back in the bottom of the inning.
Juan Trejo reached on a walk, then Worsencroft hit a double to deep left centerfield to put runners on second and third, with nobody out.
But, that’s where they stayed, as Brian Gummelt struck out, Austin Brown popped out to shortstop and Ryan Zavala flew out to centerfield to end the inning.
After Rusk added three more in the top of the fourth, Palestine finally got one back thanks to James David and Chico Herod.
David led off the inning with a single, then moved to second on a wild pitch. A Tyler Somner groundout moved him to third, where he then scored on a single to left from Herod to make it 8-2.
Rusk added another pair of runs in the fifth, but Palestine answered back with two of its own when Gummelt was hit by a pitch, then moved to second on a wild pitch.
Austin Brown followed that up with a monster home run to left field to plate himself and Gummelt, and cut the Rusk lead to 10-4.
Palestine finally held Rusk off the scoreboard in the sixth, and began its comeback thanks to the long ball once again.
David and Somner opened the inning with back-to-back singles, before Herod blasted a home run to left field, making it 10-7.
But, Rusk added another run in the seventh, and Palestine couldn’t keep the bats going into the bottom of the inning.
Gummelt took the loss, giving up eight runs in his four innings of work. He struck out four in the effort.
Herod and David both finished 2-for-3 at the plate, with Herod driving in four. Worsencroft finished 1-for-3, while Gummelt reached twice.
Palestine travels to Groesbeck Friday, with action beginning with a junior varsity game at 4:30 p.m.
CAYUGA 15, Neches 0
Hunter Johnson has yet to see a a number in the loss column of his overall pitching record so far in 2013. On the mound Tuesday against Neches, he didn’t see a number in the hit column either.
The senior no-hit the Tigers, and Chantz Holland hit a home run as the Wildcats rolled over Neches, 15-0.
The win moves Cayuga to 18-3 overall and 11-1 in District 19-A play. It moves Johnson to 6-0 on the season.
Johnson, Holland, Payton Wallace, John Vickery and Hunter Jenkins all had multi-hit games for the Wildcats, who travel to Martin’s Mill Friday. Martin’s Mill upset Kerens Tuesday to claim the district’s third-place spot.
First pitch is set for 4 p.m.