ABILENE — After rattling off nine wins in 10 games to put itself one victory from a trip to a Class 5A regional final, Lake Dallas seemed to be oozing with confidence and momentum heading into Saturday’s matchup with Lubbock Monterey.
Monterey was determined to take that momentum from the first pitch of Game 2.
The first four Monterey batters singled as the Plainsmen jumped out to a 3-0 lead. The inning set the tone for the rest of Game 2, and Monterey benefited from three Lake Dallas errors while collecting 12 hits en route to a 10-1 victory that tied the series and forced Game 3.
In Game 3, Monterey continued its assault with 15 hits, including a 5-for-5 performance from cleanup hitter Braden Benton, to defeat Lake Dallas 10-2 and advance to a regional final against Colleyville Heritage.
“They just came out and just played better than us today,” Lake Dallas coach Ryan Howard said. “There’s only one team that gets to stay on top until the end.”
Benton doubled in his first three plate appearances in Game 2 and finished with three RBIs. The junior first baseman finished the day 7-for-9 with five RBIs.
The Plainsmen sent Jaden Guerrero to the mound for Game 2 with their season on the line. Guerrero delivered for Monterey, throwing just 68 pitches and allowing one run in a complete game.
“After we lost [Friday], we knew we were going to miss graduation,” Guerrero said. “There was no way that we were going to get swept and have to walk into graduation that way. We didn’t want that at all and knew that we were going to come out here and win.”
Monterey coach Kent Meador sent Guerrero back out for Game 3, and the senior tossed another 2 2/3 innings before having to exit due to pitch count rules. Nate Davila entered the game and did not allow a hit over the final 4 1/3 innings.
“[Guerrero] was just throwing a lot of strikes,” Howard said. “It’s just one of those things where you go back and forth on maybe giving our guys the ‘take’ sign early. I felt as if I were to do that then we would’ve put our hitters in a position to hit in pitcher’s counts. With the way we’ve been swinging the bats, I was just waiting on our inning. I wasn’t going to take the bats out of our guys’ hands.”
Lake Dallas entered the series having only committed one error in its last four games. This weekend, the Falcons committed eight errors in the 20-25 mph West Texas wind.
Valedictorian Kyle York provided the highlight for the Falcon offense for the second straight day. After hitting a double to seal the Game 1 victory, York drove in a pair of runs with a double to left-center in Game 3.
The Falcons will lose six starters to graduation. Howard said the resiliency the team showed throughout the year was largely due to its senior leadership.
“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.”
Lubbock Monterey 10, Lake Dallas 1
Lubbock Monterey 300 015 1 — 10 12 0
Lake Dallas 001 000 0 — 1 4 3
WP – Jaden Guerrero; LP – Cade McCollum; 2B – Lubbock Monterey: Matt Slouik, Braden Benton, Nate Davila; 2B – Lake Dallas: Ryan Hull
Lubbock Monterey 10, Lake Dallas 2
Lubbock Monterey 012 201 4 — 10 15 0
Lake Dallas 002 000 0 — 2 8 3
WP – Nate Davila; LP – Ben Price; 2B – Monterey: Braden Benton (3), Gio Adame, Nate Davila; 2B – Lake Dallas: Ryan Depperschmidt, Kyle York, Ben Price