• Centennial senior Andruw McKenzie goes after a pitch during the Spartans’ Game 1 loss to Lake Dallas Thursday. The Spartans lost the playoff series in three games.  BURLESON STAR/CHRIS JASO

Lake Dallas stops Centennial in playoff opener, 2-1

Spartans woes at Saginaw Chisholm Trail continue
“We just didn’t come to play tonight. They [Lake Dallas] just wanted it more.” Centennial baseball coach Brad Hart

SAGINAW - Area-round playoff series at Saginaw Chisholm Trail’s baseball field haven’t been kind to Centennial’s baseball team.

While the Rangers’ home park is beautiful, it’s been a house of horrors for the Spartans during three playoff games.

The Spartans dropped to 0-3 at the field Thursday night following a 2-1 loss to Lake Dallas in Game 1 of the team’s best-of-three Class 5A area-round playoff series.

“We just didn’t come to play tonight,” Centennial coach Brad Hart said. “They [Lake Dallas] just wanted it more. We just have to stop making the game bigger than it is.”

Centennial (24-7) will need to win a pair of games Friday to advance. Game 2 is slated for 4:30 p.m. at the same site. A deciding third game will follow, if needed. The winner of the series will face the winner of the Fort Worth Arlington Heights-Saginaw Chisholm Trail series in the regional quarterfinals.

Lake Dallas (21-13) got six strong innings from starting pitcher Ben Williamson. Mixing up his pitches, Williams got the win by allowing one run on five hits. He struck out two and walked two. Grant Landry worked his way out of a jam in the seventh to register the save.

Centennial’s Payton Strambler went the distance allowing two runs on seven hits. The junior struck out eight and walked two.

The Spartans, who had been shutout in back-to-back 1-0 games against Birdville in 2014 at the same field in the same round of the playoffs, scored their run in the first.

With the game tied 1-1, Lake Dallas took the lead in the sixth with Christian Boulware hit a leadoff single. After being sacrificed to second, Boulware scored on Drew Karp’s single to center.

Centennial threatened in the seventh when Strambler greeted Landry with a double off the wall in left to open the inning. Courtesy runner Miguel Santos tried to reach third on Noah Menchaca’s grounder to short but was thrown out. Landry then retired the next two Spartans to end the game.

Andruw McKenzie hit a leadoff single to right then moved to second on Micah Bennett’s sacrifice bunt. Thomas Santos tripled home McKenzie but the Spartans stranded him at third.

Centennial stranded two runners in the second and lone runners in the next three innings.

“We weren’t very good at the plate, bottomline,” Hart said. “You can’t let them dictate how you are at the plate. Yes, they tried to slow the game down but so what? That’s a mental thing. We should take that and think hey we’re winning they are trying to find a other than baseball to get to us.”

In the third, Lake Dallas’ Alex Peppard singled to open the inning. Ben McConnnell followed with a single. After a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, Daniel Rivera hut run-scoring ground out to tie the game.

With a runner at third and one out, Strambler fanned the Falcons’ No. 3 hitter and cleanup hitter to end the inning.

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Centennial senior Andruw McKenzie goes after a pitch during the Spartans’ Game 1 loss to Lake Dallas Thursday. The Spartans lost the playoff series in three games.  BURLESON STAR/CHRIS JASO