GRAPEVINE, Texas -- Burleson and Lake Dallas combined for 32 runs in Games 1 and 2 of their Class 4A Region I semifinal baseball series. They nearly matched that total in Game 3 alone.
Both lineups were potent in the rubber match, but Burleson’s consistency at the plate lifted the Elks to an 18-13 win over the Falcons.
“A tremendous series and it boiled down to who minimized their mistakes,” Burleson coach Chris McKinley said. “I thought it was going to boil down to who had the last at-bat, and it wasn’t us.”
Lake Dallas got off to a fast start, getting its first three batters on base. Marshall Little cleared the bases with a three-run homer, which cleared the 400-foot mark in left-center field. Lake Dallas would lead 4-0 after the first inning.
The Elks scored four runs on one hit in the second inning to even things. With the score 1-0 after a fielder's choice brought in a run, Levi Scott reached second on a pop-fly error by Lake Dallas –- one of four by the Falcons –- that allowed Tyler Smith and Brian Russell to score. Lane Tahmahkara’s RBI walk brought Sabo Murray across to tie the score.
The Falcons responded with six runs in the bottom of the second inning, capped by Michael Cox's hit-and-run single that drove in two runs and gave Lake Dallas a 10-4 lead.
Burleson kept it close in the third inning, capitalizing on two Falcons errors to cut the deficit to 10-9. Brandon English drove in three of the five runs with a three-RBI double.
“Brandon’s been a great leadoff hitter for us all year and to begin the season we thought he was going to bat No. 9,” McKinley said. “But he did such a great job and he’s so selective at the plate. He waits and waits and waits before he gets his pitch, and he gets it. The great thing about that is then he capitalizes on it. So I'm extremely proud of him.”
Down 12-9 in the fourth inning, Burleson drew back-to-back walks off Little, who came in as a reliever, to load the bases. Scott singled through the infield into right field, scoring Russell and English. Dalton Deleon’s RBI-single tied the score at 12.
“We don’t get ourselves out,” McKinley said. “When we get out, it’s a hard line drive or a hard ground ball. We don’t have any give up at bats and the past few series we’ve seen that from other hitters and we’ve been able to capitalize on that pitching-wise.”
The Elks’ bullpen came up big in relief. Tahmahkara made the switch from designated hitter to pitcher and went 2 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out three. He did just enough to slow down Lake Dallas, holding the Falcons scoreless for the first time in the fourth.
The Elks would take the lead for good, 15-12, after the top of the fifth inning, which was highlighted by English’s second double in the game that drove in two runs.
“This was a crazy, crazy game,” said English, who finished 3-for-5 with two doubles, five RBIs and a walk. “A crazy series, fans were in it, everyone was yelling with a lot on the line but we got it done.”
Blake Perkins relieved Tahmahkara in the bottom fifth with two on and no outs. Perkins received help from starting pitcher Murray, who moved to shortstop and picked up a timely double play. Perkins would give up a hit facing six batters in the fifth and sixth innings.
“Lane did a tremendous job,” McKinley said. “He’s pitched real well for us in the playoffs. He’s an intelligent senior who doesn’t let a lot of things bother him. It’s nice to have those kinds of kids on the mound. Then Blake Perkins wanted the baseball bad. I’m extremely proud of him.”
Burleson will play Witchita Falls Rider, which swept Arlington Heights, for the right to play in the state baseball tournament June 8-11.
“I don’t know what it means right now,” McKinley said. “I’ve never been here. I grew up in Lubbock watching Monterey play and get there this far every year when I was a kid. To do this as a coach, it’s extremely important. It’s one more milestone but we’re going to enjoy this today and tomorrow and we’re going to get back to work because Witchita Falls Rider is a really good team.”