Big fifth inning helps Collinsville beat Ector
COLLINSVILLE — It might be tough to find a more even baseball district than 11-2A.
With four games remaining, the top six teams were all within two games of each other, including a four-way tie for third place that assured at least one playoff spot, if not another, will come down to the final day of the regular season.
It was no surprised that two of the teams involved in that tie were in a tight game by the middle of the fifth inning. But a young Collinsville roster has found its footing to get back in the mix and the Pirates pulled away for an 11-3 victory over Ector.
“We’ve just got to take care of our business,” Collinsville head coach Garrett Patterson said about a lineup that is all freshmen and sophomores except for one spot. “It’s such a battle right now.”
Colin Barnes did not allow an earned run on two hits in five and two-thirds innings and went 2-for-3 with a double, walked and scored four times, Parker Wells was 2-for-3, got hit by a pitch and drove in two, Bryce Johnson was 2-for-4, drove in a run and scored and Reed Patterson had a two-run single and scored for Collinsville (6-11, 5-4), which plays at Savoy on Friday.
The Pirates, who have won five of their last six, entered the match-up jockeying with the Eagles, Tom Bean and Tioga in third and now Collinsville, which will finish the season against the Tomcats and Bulldogs, is just a game behind second-place Era.
Emory Cooper went 2-for-4 with a double and scored, Nathan Harris singled, walked and drove in two and Carter Whitburn walked twice and scored for Ector (5-5, 4-5), which has already clinched a playoff berth in the Class 1A bracket.
Right after Ector jumped in front in the top of the fifth, Collinsville responded with nine runs in its half of the inning. The first five Pirates reached — O’Neal and Barnes singled and then O’Neal stole third and scored when the throw went into left field. Wells was hit by a pitch, Johnson had an RBI single to center and Tyler Fogle was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
The Eagles made a pitching change with Whitburn replacing Harris and Ector nearly got out of the jam down by only a run. A comebacker led to a force at the plate and a strikeout had the Eagles an out away from limiting the damage.
But Luis Hernandez reached on an error, which scored two runs, and then Patterson poked a two-run single through the right side for a 7-3 lead. The inning continued as O’Neal beat out a grounder to short and an error on the play allowed Patterson to score, a dropped fly ball to deep center off Barnes’ bat made it 10-3 and Wells capped the outburst with an RBI single up the middle for the final margin.
“You have a good inning and everybody’s demeanor changes,” Patterson said. “We had a mission there. It wasn’t hope. It was about making it happen.”
Collinsville had taken a 2-0 lead after three innings with runs in the first and third stanzas.
In the first, Barnes walked with one out, stole second and Wells reached on an error to put runners at the corners. Johnson followed with a strikeout on a pitch in the dirt and Barnes scampered home on the throw to first to complete the out.
With one away in the third, Barnes doubled to left and scored on Wells’ single to center.
All of Ector’s runs came in the top of the fifth.
A one-out error and wild pitch preceded Whitburn walking. A comebacker then moved the runners up. Another error not only kept the inning alive but allowed Ector to get on the board and Harris followed with a two-run single to shallow left-center and the Eagles were in front.
“That’s when I was displeased and we had a little team meeting,” Patterson said.
Barnes had kept Ector off the board until that point despite allowing the leadoff man to reach in each of the first four frames.
Whitburn opened the game with a walk and stole second but was picked off second by O’Neal with the hidden ball trick.
Harris ended up at third after starting the second inning with a walk but was stranded there.
An error kicked off the third but Barnes then struck out the side.
In the fourth, the Eagles got a leadoff double by Cooper and he went to third on a wild pitch. With one put, Brent Bailey bunted down the third-base line. Fogle charged and faked a throw to first, wheeled around and tagged Cooper charging home behind him.
“That was a baseball play. It was a huge out,” Patterson said. “It took away a lot of momentum.”