LYONS - Who'd rather be in a blowout than a one-run game?
Not Brandon Sanders.
The Lyons junior doubled his fun on Saturday. He scored the winning run from first base on a steal and two-base throwing error in the bottom of the sixth inning, then came on in the top of the seventh to close out a 3-2 victory for the Lions over visiting Highland.
The Lions won their ninth game in succession in improving to 11-1 overall and staying atop Class 2A's District 7.
The Lions had won various earlier outings by scores of 23-1, 16-4, 23-3, 28-0 and 23-1, so Sanders said he and his teammates much prefer competitive games, the kind they'll expect to see once they get deeper into the season.
"I love these games," the left-hander said. "I'd much rather play these games than blowouts."
Coach Ken Rosales concurred: "It's always a tough game with Highland. This will help us tremendously. As you can see, the guys are pumped up and this is what we needed."
And it happened at the right time - through six innings, the Huskies (7-7) held the lead and weren't seriously challenged as right-handed starter Ricardo Ramiriz held the Lions to a lone run, in the fourth. He was touched for seven hits, but continuously pitched out of anything resembling trouble.
However, as he closed to the maximum 110-pitch count, he was lifted in the bottom of the sixth after walking Lions sophomore David Brett and getting Dawson Kelly on a fielder's choice to the mound. Jacob Smith came on in relief and permitted a single by Sanders to make it first and second. Kelly and Sanders then attempted a double steal and the throw to third base by Huskies catcher Hunter Routh sailed down the left-field line. Kelly scored easily and Sanders simply kept running.
"I saw Dawson went home and the throw went out to left field, so I just kept running and scored," he said. "We were leaving runners on base and you can't do that."
Sanders said he had to gather himself when he took the mound in relief of junior Austen Clark - who allowed just four hits and struck out 13 - but had a 1-2-3 inning with two ground outs and a strikeout to end it.
"First save of the season and in my high-school career," Sanders said. "Glad I got it. I just wanted to relax and throw strikes."
Sanders also reached base four times, including with two hits. Lyons had scratched out its first run in the fourth on a walk to freshman Colton Bashor, an error, a single by Sanders and the third of four Huskies errors.
Dayspring Christian and Dawson School, the defending 2A state champion, account for two of the Lions' next three opponents, and Sanders knows what awaits his team.
"Those are tough teams and we have to be ready," he said.
Lyons 3, Highland 2
Highland200 000 0 — 2 4 4
Lyons000 102 x — 3 7 2
Highland hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Smith cf 4-1-1-0, Routh c 3-0-0-0, Flored cr-ph 1-1-0-0, Ramiriz p-ss 3-0-1-0, Lucero lf 3-0-1-0, Brug 3b 3-0-0-0, Webster 2b 3-0-0-0, Nelson 1b 1-0-0-0, Garcia ph 1-0-0-0, Fedler rf 2-0-0-0, Croy ph 1-0-0-0, Jackson ss 2-0-0-0. Totals 27-2-4-0. 2B —Smith.
Lyons hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Sanders 1b-p 3-1-2-0, Owens lf 4-0-1-0, Lear cf 4-0-0-0, Clark p-1b 3-0-1-0, Cross cr 0-0-0-0, Klopsen c 2-0-1-0, Reeves 3b 3-0-0-0, McCain 2b 3-0-1-0, Bashor rf 1-1-0-0, Brett ph 0-0-0-0, Kelly 31-1-0. Totals 26-3-7-0. 2B — Clark.
Lyons pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Sanders 1-0-0-0-0-1, Clark 6-5-2-1-1-13.