By Bill Tinsley
Corsicana Daily Sun
On a day made for small ball, the Tigers used a buntfest in the first inning to build a lead big enough to withstand a mid-game swoon.
Corsicana scored four runs in bottom of the first — using three bunts — then held on for an 8-4 victory over West on Friday afternoon at Navarro’s Graham Field.
The Tigers hit the district schedule with a 15-4-1 record and just outside the Class 4A Top 10. Corsicana has won 13 of 14 games headed into Tuesday’s 16-4A opener against Tyler John Tyler at Graham Field.
Corsicana needed one hit to score four times in the first inning. Hunter Denbow started the rally with a leadoff walk and then came the bunts. Layton Wolver laid one down for a sacrifice and reached on an error by West pitcher Jordan Mattlage. Brady Harlan moved the runners up, getting to two strikes and grounding out to first.
Cleanup hitter Holden Grounds followed with a sacrifice bunt and reached on another error, and Denbow scored for a 1-0 lead. Bobby Lopez had a sacrifice bunt that also scored a run.
Ben Goodrich then faked a bunt and instead slashed a fastball through the infield to left field for a RBI single for a 3-0 lead. And the Tigers capped the inning by executing a double steal with Lopez sliding in safely at home for a 4-0 lead.
“Offensively we did what we needed to do,” Tigers coach Heath Autrey said. “We bunted well. We executed things we needed to.”
Grounds meanwhile cruised through the first three innings, retiring all nine batters he faced, getting six strikeouts. Leading 6-0 entering the top of the fourth, Grounds retired the first two batters he faced before the walk bug hit him.
In all, Grounds walked five and threw over 50 pitches as West scored four times to cut the Tigers’ lead to 6-4. Grounds allowed one hit, a line-drive single up the middle by West’s Preston Macik that brought in two runs.
The Tigers picked up the insurance runs they needed in the bottom of the sixth. Zane Otten had an infield single and Zack Rash had a walk to put runners at first and second with no outs. After a Denbow sacrifice, Wolver had an RBI single for a 7-4 lead. Harlan followed with a single for an 8-4 cushion.
Corsicana got superb defense at shortstop by Denbow, who went into the hole to make a spectacular play. And Lopez had a great day at first base, digging out three throws, including Denbow’s low throw.
“Bobby’s been the biggest surprise of the year for us,” Autrey said. “He’s playing well and playing with a lot of confidence.”
The Tigers, as they roll into district, are playing with a lot of confidence too.