By MICHAEL S. ADAMS
H-P Sports Writer
The Westwood Panthers opened the Howard Estes Baseball Tournament falling to Grand Saline 6-4 Thursday at Nicholson Field.
Westwood came back later in the night to defeat Grapeland 10-4. They advanced to play at 7 p.m. tonight at Palestine High School.
With Westwood up 4-2 after three innings Westwood head coach Ron Cheek turned to freshman pitcher Ryan Macie, who was making his first ever varsity appearance on the mound.
Macie struggled in his first appearance, pitching two-thirds of the fourth inning and gave up four runs, two hits and walked two batters.
“You have to chalk that up to experience,” Cheek said. “That is a tough spot to put a freshman. You can’t blame him because that was my call.”
Macie got Grand Saline’s Jason Taylor to pop out to left field to start the inning, but gave up a double to Tim LaProde before walking Justin Walker.
The Indians’ Sam Dickenson drove in the first run with a single to right field before a wild pitch tied the game at 4-4.
B.J. Bolin grounded to short, but a catching error from Tyler Coates at first base put Grand Saline up 5-4.
Macie walked the bases loaded and then walked Tony Carroll to score Bolin to give Grand Saline a 6-4 lead at the end of the fourth inning.
Cheek took out Coates after pitching three innings with 50 pitches thrown.
Coates gave up one earned run and four hits while striking out two batters and walking two.
“This was Tyler’s first game pitching so we were not going to pitch him for too long,” Cheek said. “We have a long season still ahead of us, so there was no reason to risk an injury.”
After giving up two runs in the top of the second inning, Coates led off the bottom half with a home run over the left field wall.
In the bottom of the third inning, Clayton Thompson started the inning off with a single.
Randal Reeves hit into a fielder’s choice and scored on a throwing error from shortstop Sam Dickenson on a grounder by Derric Hardy.
The Indians’ Kyle Thompson (1-0) walked in the final two runs of the bottom of the third inning.
Dickenson had three errors for the game, but made a clutch double play in the bottom of the seventh inning when Devon Hassell, who represented the tying run, hit into a double play.
“You can’t gripe about a 6-4 ball game,” Cheek said. “I thought we played pretty good and were threatening there in the seventh, but their shortstop made a clutch play after not being able to catch a ball the entire game.”
Coates led Westwood from the plate going 2-for-33, with two runs and a RBI.
Hardy closed out for Westwood on the mound and gave up no runs and one hit while walking three batters and striking out three.
Westwood gave up seven total hits to Grand Saline and committed just four errors for the game.
In the second game, Zac Dunham earned the win for Westwood, going five innings, allowing one run on three hits. Dunham also was 2-for-3 at the plate.
Westwood catcher Tony Humphreys and Cody Brooks both were 2-for-4.
Cheek credited Bruce Smith with his strong play in left field.
Michael S. Adams may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
By MICHAEL S. ADAMS