There is no doubt things are trending in Denison’s direction. The problem lies with the fact that the Yellow Jackets are seeing what their potential can be without being able to come up with some sort of tangible evidence.

There is no doubt things are trending in Denison’s direction. The problem lies with the fact that the Yellow Jackets are seeing what their potential can be without being able to come up with some sort of tangible evidence.


It was another close loss in what has turned into a spring of them and the 6-3 defeat to Royse City on Friday night kept Denison searching for its first District 13-A victory of the season.


"We’re right there. But it doesn’t matter if you lose by one run or 10 runs," Denison head coach Charles Bollinger said. "You’ve got to figure out ways to start winning. We’ve dug ourselves in a hole and we’ve got to get out of it next game."


The Yellow Jackets (7-12, 0-3) may be winless during the early stages of district play but are just two games behind three teams, including the Lovejoy squad they face Tuesday, in second place. Denison needs to find a way to be on the winning side after 10 of its losses so far have been decided by three runs or fewer.


Dylan McCain allowed only one Jacket — Drew Marr with a pair of infield singles — to reach in the first four innings as Royse City (5-9-1, 2-1) won its second straight 13-4A contest.


"Leaving guys on, just not doing what we need to do," Bollinger said. "We’re not good enough to give people a lead on us to fight back."


Royse City took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third when the bottom of its order set the table for a pair of suicide squeezes. Singles by Antonio Carrillo, Cody Johnson and Trevor Westmoreland loaded the bases before Jaylen Milton struck out looking. Dalton Warner pushed his squeeze towards first and catcher Joseph Hendricks didn’t have a play as Carrillo scored the first run. McCain then laid a bunt towards third with Colton Wheeler’s only way to get an out coming at first.


Denison missed its chance to cut the deficit in half the next inning when Marr beat out a grounder to short, stole second and then went to third on a throwing error with one out. A pair of foul pop-outs left him stranded.


The Bulldogs extended their advantage with two more runs in the fifth. Will Menta was relieved after a one-out triple to left by Melton and Warner greeted Braeden Wright with an RBI triple to right. McCain singled to left and Royse City led 4-0. Devon Blanton made a diving catch in right to end the inning and keep at least one run off the board.


"I thought they swung the bats well. They hit the ball well off Will," Bollinger said. "We didn’t capitalize, turn the tables when it was our chance."


The defensive gem loomed large as Denison attempted to rally with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Menta singled to start the fifth and courtesy runner McShane Wyatt stole second and went to third on a throwing error. Wyatt scored on a wild pitch that was ball four to Blanton.


With Blanton on third with two outs, Clay Stubblefield hit a short-hop single to third to make it a 4-2 deficit.


But Royse City got both runs back in the top of the sixth on a Westmoreland single-and-error and when Warner beat out a potential double-play grounder to short that would have ended the inning.


Denison loaded the bases in the sixth but could only push across one run as Blanton hit a ball that ricocheted off the umpire near second instead of getting up the middle. A pop-up near the right-field line ended any further threat of a comeback against Sean Lopez, who earned the save.


Royse City loaded the bases with one out in the seventh before Blanton escaped the jam but Denison went in order in its last turn at the plate.