FORT WORTH – All was quiet for nearly six innings, with Lake Dallas and Arlington Heights combining for just four hits in a scoreless area-round contest.
Then, with a Yellowjacket on second base and a line drive tailing away from him in the gap, Lake Dallas junior left fielder Jonah Webb provided the game’s first spark of momentum.
Webb laid out for the sinking liner, hitting full extension to haul in the third out in the bottom of the sixth and keep the second game of the area-round series level. After back-to-back walks put two on for the Falcons with one away in the top of the seventh, Webb’s single up the gut scored senior Austan Williams to give the program a lead it wouldn’t relinquish on its way to a 4-0 victory and a sweep of the Yellowjackets.
“To make that catch – it was game-saving,” said Ryan Howard, Lake Dallas head coach. “Then to turn around and have the at-bat that he had in that spot – you talk about a guy stepping up and just putting the team on his back and saying, ‘We’re going to win it today and we don’t want it to go to game three.’ I’m really proud of him.”
The Falcons would tack on three more in the frame, pushing one across on a bases-loaded walk from senior Kyle York and a pair on an RBI single from junior designated hitter Connor Perry.
Though Webb’s base knock uncorked the Lake Dallas offense and led to the Falcons’ eventual victory, it’s a position Howard said his club would not have been in without the performance of junior Ben Price.
Price worked a complete game on the mound, scattering four Arlington Heights hits and striking out three in his seven scoreless innings.
“[Price was] outstanding,” Howard said. “We weren’t hitting for six innings of the ballgame, and he just kept us in it. He kept grinding. He made the big pitches when we needed big pitches. … He kept us in the game until we could figure out how to scratch a couple of hits off of their pitching.”
Price’s effort, and the Falcons’ subsequent wrapping up of the series in just a pair of games, is enormous for a pitching staff that relies on three main arms in Price, senior ace Ryan Depperschmidt and senior Cade McCollum.
Depperschmidt and McCollum both worked in the Falcons’ 6-1 victory over the Yellowjackets Thursday, and Howard said the lack of a third game Saturday will give his staff a chance to reset heading into the regional quarterfinals.
“I think the third one, with us, [is when] pitching comes into effect with having to deal with guys’ pitch counts,” he said. “With Cade having to go a couple innings in game one – he pitched very well in game one, but it’s nice to take care of it and not have to bring him back for game three and keep his arm a little bit more fresh going into next week.”
Webb had two of the Falcons’ three hits Friday, as his fifth-inning, infield single broke up the no-hitter of Arlington Heights starter Jackson Henninge. Webb, Depperschmidt, senior Ryan Hull and Williams tallied the four Lake Dallas runs.
The third round of the Class 5A postseason will see Lake Dallas square off with 5-5A champion Burleson Centennial, which swept District 8-5A bunkmate Little Elm in the area round.
The Spartans are led by hurler and TCU signee Jacob Meador, whose low-90s fastball and three-pitch arsenal have befuddled opposing lineups in 2019. In his outing against the Lobos, a 13-strikeout, 5.1-inning winning effort in the first game of the teams’ series, Meador allowed just three hits and two runs.
“I know that they’ve got one of the best arms in the state. Obviously, he’s an elite talent, and they swing that bat good through the order,” Howard said. “I think they’re just a really solid team with a really plus arm that they have that wins a lot of games for them. I’m looking forward to it.”
The dates, length and location of the Falcons’ regional-quarterfinal series have yet to be determined.
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