Lake Dallas Baseball's Hunter McDaniel

Junior Hunter McDaniel and the Lake Dallas baseball team dropped back-to-back contests to Lubbock Monterey Saturday to be eliminated from the Class 5A postseason.

ABILENE – Twenty-one days after the Lake Dallas baseball program last lost, the Falcons and their lengthy postseason run finally met their end.

After falling behind in the teams’ regional-semifinal opener Friday, Lubbock Monterey clobbered the Falcons in back-to-back victories at Abilene Christian Saturday. The Plainsmen outscored Lake Dallas, 20-3, and outhit the Falcons 26-6 on their way to showing the program the door in the Class 5A playoffs.

“I think they just played better than us today,” said Ryan Howard, Lake Dallas head coach. “They were the better team today, and there’s only one team that gets to stay on top until the end. The conversation I had with these guys – that’s what every other team in the state is going to have, except for one.”

While the Falcons’ run was largely unexpected to those not on campus, Howard said he knew his group bore the signs of a potentially special club.

“I knew that we had the guys to do it,” he said. “I’m sure it surprised a bunch of people outside the program but, when you’re around these guys every single day and see how they approach practice and see how we approach the classroom – just their character. I knew that we had the talent to do it, and we had the character.

“When you have those two things, man, when you get hot and you get a team all believing in each other, you never know what could happen.”

Now, with 2019 in the books, the Falcons will need to find a way to move forward following the departure of a large senior class, including the first through third hitters in the Lake Dallas order in Ryan Depperschmidt, Ryan Hull and Kyle York.

“It’s just tough with this senior class,” Howard said. “They’re so special, and this was such a special run from a group of guys that all came together. It’s something that I’ll always remember.”

Monterey’s Jaden Guerrero was the story on the hill, starting and picking up wins in both the second and third games of the series after throwing just shy of 70 pitches in a complete-game effort in Saturday’s first contest. In all, the righty scattered three runs over 9.2 innings of work, striking out four.

Guerrero bested a quartet of pitchers over the two games for Lake Dallas. Senior Cade McCollum was pinned with the loss in the second game, giving up seven runs in five innings of action, and junior Ben Price wore the defeat in the rubber match for a five-run, five-frame effort. Senior Hayden Payne and junior Hunter McDaniel each made relief appearances in the losses, largely in mop-up roles.

“[Guerrero] was just throwing a lot of strikes,” Howard said. “It’s just one of those things where you go back and forth and you’re thinking, ‘Well, do I need to put the take sign on early?’ But, you put the take sign on early and, next thing you know, you’re putting your hitters in positions where they’re hitting in pitcher’s counts all the time. With the way we’ve been swinging the bats, I was just waiting for our inning. I wasn’t going to take the bat out of our guys’ hands.”

At the plate, Depperschmidt was the only Falcon to score in both the second and third game, coming across for a lone run in each. The second run in the decisive final game came from Hull, who scored alongside Depperschmidt after a misplay in centerfield of a two-out fly ball from York.

No Falcon had a multi-hit game in either contest.

The same wasn’t true for the Plainsmen, who got a career day in the third game from first baseman Braden Benton. Benton went 5-for-5 with three doubles, driving in three and scoring a run of his own to help lift Monterey to the series victory.

The Plainsmen will advance to take on District 7-5A champion Colleyville Heritage next week in the Region I-5A final.

For continued coverage of the local sports scene, follow @TaylorRaglin on Twitter.

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