For the sixth straight time and the ninth in its last 10 games, the Lake Dallas baseball program walked off the field a winner.
The Falcons edged Lubbock Monterey, 5-4, in the opener of the teams’ regional-semifinal series at Abilene Christian University Friday, breaking a 3-3 tie with a two-run sixth and riding that advantage to a 1-0 series lead.
“Game one is always big, so I’m happy we were able to get it. … It was a big one,” said Ryan Howard, Lake Dallas head coach. “But, like always, it’s a best-two-out-of-three [series], so we’ve got a big day tomorrow. We know that they’re a tough team, and they’re going to come out ready to go.”
The programs will square off again Saturday, with the potentially decisive second game slated for 11 a.m. and a third game to follow, if necessary.
Friday’s game entered the bottom half of the fifth inning with Lake Dallas on top, 3-1, thanks to lone runs in the first, fourth and fifth frames. Monterey would post the game’s first crooked number in the home half of the fifth, pushing across a pair to knot the contest at three runs a side.
Then, as it has so many times before during the Falcons’ postseason run, the Lake Dallas offense punched back.
After senior Ryan Depperschmidt, who also worked 5.1 innings on the mound in the victory before giving way to junior Ben Price, who shut the door, singled with one away, he advanced to second on a passed ball. Following a fly out from senior Ryan Hull, a double from fellow senior Kyle York saw the catcher trade places with Depperschmidt and put Lake Dallas on top, 4-3.
Junior Connor Perry plated the Falcons’ fifth and final run of the game, bringing York around to score after an error from the Monterey third baseman.
It’s a story Howard’s seen before from a team with no current shortage of confidence at the plate.
“They’re tough, and they’ve really bought in to just a good, blue-collar approach,” he said. “When we have two strikes on us, we’re tough. We’re going to put the ball in play, and the guys at the bottom of our lineup can run a little bit. … They’re just doing a really good job, and it’s fun to see.”
Hull and York paced the Falcons offensively, collecting a pair of hits each and driving in three runs between them.
While Depperschmidt would pick up the win for his four-run, three-strikeout outing, Price didn’t allow a hit over his 1.2 frames in relief.
Senior Cade McCollum, who helped lift Lake Dallas to its series-opening win over Burleson Centennial in the regional quarterfinals a week ago, is scheduled to toe the rubber for the Falcons in Saturday’s opening game.
“We’re feeling great. I think that the whole team has confidence, and I think that the most important thing is that he has confidence in himself,” Howard said. “I said before this series that I’d find it really hard for anybody to tell me who our No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 are. They all throw really well. … I’m excited to watch him, and I know our team is excited to play behind him.”
The winner of the series between Lake Dallas and Monterey will move on to face District 7-5A champion Colleyville Heritage, which authored an undefeated run through its conference and features the Gatorade Texas Baseball Player of the Year in senior shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.
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