Tyler Jones delivered a clutch hit, Zach Flanagan pitched a complete game and Robert E. Lee stayed on the front foot in the District 12-5A playoff race.
The Red Raiders blanked Mesquite 6-0 Tuesday at Mike Carter Field, keeping themselves in at least third place in the league standings.
The top four teams make the playoffs and Lee (14-9, 6-4) currently is locked in a tussle with Longview and North Mesquite for the final two spots.
The Red Raiders' final two games are on the road at Longview (6 p.m. Friday) and at home against first place and state-ranked Rockwall-Heath (April 26).
"The way this district is, you've got to get every (win) that we can," Lee coach David Howard said. "We were able to get this one, which is good. But like I just told our guys, this was win No. 6, but win No. 7 puts us in (the playoffs)."
Flanagan finished with nine strikeouts, giving up five hits with one walk.
The senior looked to be in hot water in the first inning, but key pitches and a strong defense got Flanagan and REL out of a jam.
Mesquite (10-14, 1-10) had runners at first and third after a leadoff walk to Carlos Chavez and one-out single by Rodney Jackson.
Flanagan induced a ground ball to second baseman Chandler Hill, who started a 4-6-3 double play that ended the inning.
"They did a good job in the first inning, especially with the first couple hitters, of battling through what Zach was doing," Howard said. "Zach was making good pitches and they were fouling them off. They got in a situation first and third and we turned it and that was big."
Mesquite starter Dakota Taylor matched Flanagan, stranding Lee base runners in the first, second and third innings to keep the game scoreless.
Taylor breezed through his first two batters in the fourth inning, but an infield error eventually led to six unearned runs.
Hill reached when Mesquite's shortstop misplayed a slow roller. Then Ryan Rendon delivered what was originally ruled an RBI double, but the umpire sent Hill back to third base and called it a ground-rule double.
Mesquite had left the gate open near its bullpen and Rendon's ball had gone out of the fence.
Howard was incredulous, but the call stood.
The run only stayed off the board for another minute. On a 1-2 pitch, Jones delivered a two-out RBI single up the middle that scored Hill again. This time it counted.
REL continued with Marty Antilley reaching on an error, Blake Hamblett hit by a pitch, Trace Reed singling, Ross Himes walking and Flanagan singling.
When the dust settled entering the fifth, the Red Raiders had batted around and now led 6-0.
"As frustrating as it is, that was the right call," Howard said of the umpire's decision. "But you have to give our kids a lot of credit. I was frustrated, but our kids just got in the box and put runs on the board — and not just score, but score six, which was huge."
Flanagan mowed through the Skeeters in the fifth, but loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth.
But as he did in the first inning, Flanagan made the right pitch to stop the threat, striking out the Mesquite hitter on the way to a 6-0 victory.
Robert E. Lee 6, Mesquite 0
Mesquite 000 000 0 — 0 5 4
Lee 000 600 x — 6 7 0
Dakota Taylor, Marcus Muniz and Tanner Logsdon; Zach Flanagan and Tyler Jones. W — Flanagan. L — Taylor. 2B — REL: Marty Antilley, Ryan Rendon. SB — REL: Ross Himes. SAC — MES: Muniz. REL: Trace Reed.
RECORDS — Mesquite 10-14 (1-10); Robert E. Lee 14-9 (6-4).
NEXT UP — Robert E. Lee at Longview, 6 p.m. Friday.