Northeast Tarrant

Mustangs get ready for Lake Dallas in history-making run

Grapevine pitcher Connor Neuman is expected to start Game 2 against Lake Dallas this weekend.
Grapevine pitcher Connor Neuman is expected to start Game 2 against Lake Dallas this weekend.

The dejection only lasted 10 minutes. Once the Grapevine baseball team missed its first chance to close out a series win over Canyon, there wasn’t much time to sulk.

Players used the other 20 minutes to focus on the deciding game. As they showed in other playoff series, they gained the early advantage and are still wearing their uniforms. Grapevine defeated Canyon, 6-1, to win the Class 5A Region I semifinal series this past Saturday in Wichita Falls.

“It’s good to let losses hurt for a little bit,” head coach Steve Hutcherson said. “It gives you the mentality to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Like we have in the other games [against Granbury and Wichita Falls Rider], we played with purpose.”

Grapevine (31-6) meets fellow 6-5A foe Lake Dallas (26-10) this weekend in the regional championship with a berth to the state tournament at stake. The Mustangs are making their fifth appearance in this round in the last 25 seasons – 1992, 1995, 1998 and 1998 – but have yet to break through and play in Round Rock.

Because of Thursday graduation for both schools, the series is compressed to Friday and Saturday at Dallas Baptist University. The opener is at 3 p.m. (moved from 7:30 p.m. due to weather concerns) Friday followed by a second game at noon Saturday. A potential deciding third game is scheduled 30 minutes after the conclusion of the second.

Grapevine let a 5-3 lead get away in the late innings in the second game and lost, 6-5, in eight innings. However, the Mustangs jumped out to an early 2-1 lead and then broke open the clinching game in the final frames.

“I probably let Connor Neuman stay in too long in the second game,” Hutcherson said. “That’s where I have to step up and give him some help. But Boone Montgomery did a great job in the third game. He had good stuff from a pitching perspective, but I really liked how well he competitive he was. Boone made some good pitches and does not have a fear of throwing strikes. He was always getting ahead in counts.”

A school record

The Mustangs entered into new territory over the weekend when they broke the 30-win plateau for the first time in school history.

Of course, that means these Mustangs already own the single-season school record for wins in a season. Tim McCune’s 2013 team held the record at 27.

“This group deserves it,” Hutcherson said. “This is a big deal. You’ve probably had some arguments at the family dinner between the younger and older brothers about which team is better. These guys are out to prove something.”

About Lake Dallas

The Mustangs swept the two district meetings, 5-4 and 9-4. Kyle Flamm and Neuman are expected to start the first two games like they have in the four previous series.

The Falcons finished third in 6-5A at 7-5. This run may have been a surprise. But this team also knocked off some quality opponents along the way, including Saginaw Boswell, Burleson Centennial, Fort Worth Arlington Heights and Lubbock Cooper.

“You look at their road and it’s very impressive,” Hutcherson said. “They have some different pitchers and different parts to their lineup. So they’re not even the same team we saw in the season. I think we faced one of their starting pitchers for one inning. That was it.”

As close as the Mustangs are to reaching the state tournament, Hutcherson is trying to keep his team with the right perspective Indeed, that’s a challenge.

“It’s impossible to not look ahead,” he said. “But you use one of these things as extra motivation. We’ve gotten to this point, but we can’t change who we are. We have to trust how we’ve done things.”