By JUSTIN RAINS
For the better part of six innings, the Palestine baseball team looked like it was heading for a rough spot.
The Wildcats trailed visiting Mexia 7-4 and, with only four outs left to work with, seemed ready to fall to 1-2 in District 19-3A.
Then, everything changed.
Palestine mounted an epic two-out rally, sending 10 batters to the plate after recording the second out of the sixth inning and, when the dust settled, the Wildcats had plated eight runs.
It gave the Wildcats an 11-7 lead, one they’d hang on to to move into a virtual tie for first place in District 19-3A.
Mexia looked ready to cruise to its first district win heading into the sixth, and quick outs by Chico Herrod and James David didn’t change that.
But, Angel Trejo then drew a walk, and Devin Harris reached on an infield single to put two runners on for Juan Trejo.
Juan Trejo then grounded to second for what should have been the third out, but the Mexia second baseman booted the ball, loading the bases.
Zane Worsencroft then drew a walk, plating Angel Trejo and loading the bases for Ryan Zavala.
In Zavala’s at-bat, a wild pitch scored Harris, and when the catcher’s throw went past the pitcher, Juan Trejo came all the way from second base to score as well, cutting the Mexia lead to 7-6.
Zavalla then popped up right behind second base, but the ball wasn’t fielded by the Mexia shortstop, which scored Worsencroft to tie things at 7-7.
Brian Gummelt then drew a walk to put two on for Austin Brown, who blasted a ball to the left field fence for a long single that scored both Zavala and Gummelt and gave Palestine a two-run cushion.
Herrod then singled to left, and he and Tyler Somner — running for Brown — scored on an opposite field double by David to give Palestine the 11-7 lead.
The Wildcats made things interesting in the top of the seventh, when Somner, pitching in relief walked lead-off batter Zach York and then hit Sidney Bryant to put two on with no one out.
But, PHS coach Austin Evans then made his fifth pitching change of the night, bringing in Herrod who one-hit Groesbeck on Friday. He did his job Tuesday as well, striking out two of the three batters he faced and getting the other to pop-up to second to end the game.
With the win and Groesbeck’s 5-1 victory over Rusk Tuesday, the Wildcats, Goats and Eagles all have one district loss. Groesbeck is 3-1, while both Palestine and Rusk are 2-1.
Mexia got up big in the third inning, when Gummelt — who started on the mound for Palestine — lost his command.
Gummelt walked six batters in the frame, including five-in-a-row at one point, to allow Mexia to take a 3-0 lead before he was pulled for Juan Trejo.
Juan Trejo then allowed a single to Tre Craig, which plated both Brady Walker and Blake Lewis for the five runs, all of which were charged to Gummelt.
Palestine got three back in the bottom of the fourth, when Gummelt led off by getting hit by a pitch, followed by a single from Brown.
Herrod then singled to left, scoring Gummelt, and Brown came around to score on a ground ball to short by Angel Trejo later in the inning.
On that same play, Herrod also scored after an error by the Mexia shortstop allowed Angel Trejo to reach.
Palestine hits the road Friday, when they take on Fairfield with junior varsity action beginning at 4:30 p.m.
CAYUGA 11, NECHES 0
For the fourth time in five district games, the Cayuga baseball team pitched a shut out.
This time, it came via a no-hitter pitched by Chandler Rigdon and Preston Anderson, who allowed only one baserunner in an 11-0 Cayuga victory over Neches Tuesday.
The duo also combined to strike out 11 in the victory, while Rigdon had two hits and two RBIs to help his own cause.
Anderson, Chantz Holland, Payton Wallace and Hunter Johnson all had extra-base hits in the victory as well.
Cayuga (11-2, 5-0) hosts Martin’s Mill Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m.
Coaches or team representatives are encouraged to call in scores and stats to 903-729-0281 ext. 242, or to email firstname.lastname@example.org