by Lary Bump
RICHARDSON, TX -- The Houston Generals found themselves in an unaccustomed situation Friday.
It wasn’t so much for playing in 40-degree weather in North Texas as being surprised at being behind late in a game.
As pool play began Friday in the 13 D1 Elite division at the Triple Crown Texas Season Opener, the Generals trailed Spitfire Truth of Grandview, Texas, by three runs going into the bottom of the fifth inning. Coming off the mound in the top of the fifth, Easton Dean had a plan for when he led off the bottom of the inning.
“Just go opposite field, hit something and get a base hit,” he said.
That didn’t go entirely to plan. Instead of hitting to the opposite field, the left-handed batter lined a double -- to right field. Two singles pulled the Generals within a run. With two outs, Luke Rives singled to tie the game, and when he stole second base on a fake-bunt play, he continued to the plate on two errors.
“I watched them in the field,” Rives said. “They didn’t look like a very good fielding team. I didn’t know the (throw) went over his head. My thought process was that when he waved me home that the ball got by the center fielder.”
Which it did. After that, coach Travis Dean had words of advice for his son when he went to the mound for the sixth.
Easton Dean recounted the words as “Just keep throwing strikes over the plate.” He pitched out of a one-on, one-out jam to nail down a 5-4 win, the second of two victories for the Generals on the day at Breckinridge Park.
Before that, Spitfire had had its way with the Houston team. Trey Craig provided Spitfire’s scoring with two two-run home runs, and the Generals had only one hit, a bunt single, entering the fifth.
“They were a little bit intimidated,” Travis Dean said. “That hitting puts a chill on the kids and they go, ‘Oh, oh, we’re outmatched.’
I just had to remind them and give them the confidence, and they came out and did their job when they were supposed to.”
Luke Rives was asked if the team has had to rally often.
“Um,” he said, thinking, and finally added, “Not many.”
Earlier, the Generals had built an early lead and held off the Exit Velocity Yankees of Hornlake, Miss., 8-6.
“We gave away six unearned runs,” Travis Dean said.
In the 12-team invitational event, three other teams – Crawdads by Yeti of Austin, Texas; Louisiana Knights of Stonewall, La., and Hustle Premier of Texas City, Texas -- won two pool-play games each.
“The unique flavor of this tournament is that most weekend tournaments are single-elimination. This one adds a double-elimination format,” tournament director Jason McCoy said. “Also, for this tournament, we identified the best teams in 42 different events across the country. These teams have been invited to play here.
“They’re playing against the other best teams, so there are no games they can take off.”
For the tournament’s double-elimination portion beginning Saturday, the Knights are seeded first, with Yeti second, Hustle Premier third and the Generals fourth.
The seeding didn’t seem to bother the Generals, who have come from behind once already this weekend.