After drawing a seventh-inning walk with his team down two runs, Spencer Sackett returned to the dugout, replaced on the base path by a pinch runner.
From the dugout, he told an Arlington Martin baseball supporter to keep the faith that the Warriors would rally. “I said Tristen [Lutz] or Kurt [Wilson] might hit a home run here,” Sackett recalled. “Just keep on watching.”
Sackett’s words proved prophetic. After a Lutz walk to load the bases, Wilson smacked an El Paso Socorro pitch to straight away center for a grand slam. The bases-clearing long ball turned a Martin deficit into a 7-5 lead and put the Warriors on the verge of advancing to the fourth round of the playoffs.
“It was pretty much up and in, which is exactly my sweet spot,” Wilson, a senior, said of the pitch. “He hung a curveball. I knew it. It was the best feeling as soon as it was off the bat.”
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When Kurt came up, we knew he’d get the run. But we didn’t know it would be in grand-slam fashion.
- Spencer Sackett, on teammate Kurt Wilson’s go-ahead grand slam in Game 2 vs. El Paso Socorro
But Wilson’s work wasn’t finished. The starting shortstop/relief pitcher still needed to close things out. When Sackett met Wilson in the dugout after the grand slam, he reminded the closer that he needed to stay locked in and get ready to pitch. Wilson’s response gave Sackett confidence of what was to come in the bottom of the seventh.
“He said, ‘All right, I got you,” Sackett said. “And then he went three up and three down.”
Wilson retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh, finishing things off with a called strike out. By sweeping Socorro in Odessa, the Warriors advanced to the 6A regional semifinals against Flower Mound Marcus at nearby Dallas Baptist University.
Each successive round brings new challenges. But with clutch hitters like Wilson in the fold, Martin’s never out even when it’s down. “Everyone seems to have quality at bats,” Sackett said. “That’s what we stress. We don’t stress getting our average up as high as we would like it. We stress quality at-bats. Whether you’re hitting .100 or .200, you can still be doing things to help out in a game.”
Sackett, who hit a solo home run in the 5-3 Game 1 win against Socorro, drew his walk in the Game 2 rally after a leadoff double by junior Sam Creed. After the Lutz walk, Wilson came to bat with the opportunity to drive in the tying and winning runs. But he wasn’t feeling the pressure to win the game. He just wanted to do his job like the previous three batters.
“My mentality at the plate was just get my best swing on it,” Wilson said. “Obviously, I wanted to drive the runs in.”
As Sackett suggested to a fan in the crowd, he expected Wilson to get his best swing on it — even if it wasn’t a ball over the tall fence in center. “When Kurt came up, we knew he’d get the run,” Sackett said. “But we didn’t know it would be in grand-slam fashion.”
That winning hit led to a sweet reward. By avoiding a Game 3, Martin got to return from West Texas earlier in the day and got to save the Warriors pitchers’ arms.
“We worked so hard,” Sackett said. “We told ourselves if we won, we’d get to go home on the air conditioned bus.”
The Arlington Martin baseball team enters the regional semi-finals at 8 p.m. Thursday, taking on Flower Mound Marcus at Dallas Baptist University, where all games will be played.
Game 2 will be played at 5 p.m. Friday, and a Game 3, if necessary, would be played at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Adult sports leagues
The Arlington Parks and Recreation department is hosting summer adult leagues in softball, basketball, volleyball, kickball and flag football.
Registration for softball ends May 31. Volleyball registers in June, basketball and kickball in July and flag football in August.
Registration and information: naturallyfun.org
Stephen English: firstname.lastname@example.org, @sbenglish74