The game featured two lead changes and two ties.
LONE GROVE — Braxton Campo had to field the ball first.
As Lone Grove clung to its one-run lead, the Longhorns’ first baseman had to maintain his concentration, to field a baseball “with a bunch of wicked spin on it.”
Despite a hiccup, he made the play.
Lone Grove’s offense applied what the team focused on in recent practices: Landon Lee delivered the go-ahead hit and Casen Presgrove drove in an insurance run.
The Longhorns provided Caleb Norman with sufficient run support in their 4-3 win against Sulphur on Monday in Lone Grove.
The Longhorns (2-5, 1-2) earned their first District 4A-2 win. Sulphur (2-5, 0-3) has a chance to avenge the loss at 4:30 p.m. today in the second game of the home-and-home series.
“The kid on third,” Campo said, referring to Jones, “I knew he was pretty fast. They hit a soft little ground ball to me. As soon as I started to get hold of it, it (slipped) out of my hand. I saw that kid on third take off as soon as he saw me miss it. I picked it up, saw I had enough time, gave it a good shot at home and I got him.”
Lone Grove (2-5, 1-2) catcher Colton Colbert blocked the plate. He tagged out the Sulphur senior three steps in front of the plate.
Pitcher Cody Almond caught a pop-up to record the final out.
“There at the end, we tried to make something happen,” Sulphur coach Corey Cole said. “They made a great throw and got us out. When you play aggressive like we do, that’s going to happen every once in a while.”
Jones stole second base, the second time he did so, and advanced to third on an errant pitch.
Jones’ initial assist could’ve derailed the fourth inning. Ryan Good led off with a single against Sulphur pitcher Justin Pettifer. Jones’ throw caught the Longhorns’ pinch runner leaning too far from the bag.
Lone Grove strung together enough hits against Pettifer to turn a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 lead.
Lee said the Longhorns focused on outside pitches recently.
“We were all watching him in the dugout, getting our timing down,” Lee said. “I think I had two balls and a strike on me and I knew he was going to throw me one right down the middle because he had to get back ahead, so I just stayed down and hit it.”
Lone Grove coach Jimmy Miller said his team played a better game on Monday.
“We’re really working on our effort, hustle and doing things right consistently,” he said. “That was a better game for us right there, to squeak out a win and just build a little bit of confidence in ourselves. We’ve had a tough stretch to start the season, with some pretty good teams. That was better for us.”
Miller also praised starting pitcher Caleb Norman, who struck out eight in five innings and Almond, who tossed two frames.
Sulphur stranded four runners in scoring position, including three at third base — one in each of the first two innings and another in the fifth frame. In that final instance, despite the passed ball, Jones’ run didn’t count because of a force play at first base, Cole said. Wyatt Parks struck out and Lone Grove retained its 4-3 lead.
Jones went 4-for-4, including an extra-base hit in the opening inning. A catcher, he also picked off two Longhorns base runners.
“He had a great game,” Cole said.
Jones’ first hit drove in Pettifer and gave Sulphur a 1-0 lead. Lone Grove answered in the home half of the first as Campo’s double drove in Norman, who advanced to third base on Garrett Lemons’ sacrifice bunt.
In the second, Lee’s RBI groundout gave the Longhorns a 2-1 lead.
A frame later, Lone Grove catcher Colton Colbert threw to Ryan Good, who tagged Jones at third base to complete a strike-him-out-throw-him-out double play to end the third, which preserved the hosts’ 2-1 lead.
In the fourth, Parks scored on an error to tie the game. Breaking for home, Parks successfully diverted Norman’s attention from Daniel Robledo, who was caught between first and second base.
Lone Grove’s offense delivered in the fourth, Pettifer’s second inning as pitcher.
“It’s good to get it (this win) after a little string of losses,” Campo said. “It’s good to get back on the horse, get us on the right track.”