Robert E. Lee enters the win-or-go-home portion of its 2014 campaign.
But that is nothing new.
The Red Raiders have basically been playing win-or-go-home games for four weeks.
Lee will open up a Class 5A Region II best of three bi-district series Thursday against Rowlett. Game 1 is slated for 7 p.m. at Mike Carter Field with Game 2 at 5 p.m. Friday at Rowlett. Game 3, if necessary, will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at Dallas Jesuit School.
Lee (14-12) won five of its last seven games to lock down the third seed from District 12-5A.
But back on April 4, the Red Raiders were 2-4 in district and staring down a challenging task of winning at least four of their remaining six league games with three of those on the road. Lee did it and capped off the run by blasting North Mesquite on Saturday in a seeding playoff for third.
“With where we were sitting halfway through the season, we are really excited to have the opportunity to continue to play,” REL coach David Howard said. “We just get the chance to go out and represent Robert E. Lee and our community for another week and see what happens.”
Rowlett travels to Tyler as the second-place finisher in District 11-5A. The Eagles (17-13) also enter the postseason on a roll, winners of four of their last five. Rowlett did face Rockwall-Heath, the unbeaten league champion from 12-5A, in a non-district contest in February and lost 10-7.
The Eagles scored nearly six runs per game in the regular season. Rowlett’s lineup features several threats. Tanner Sonnenberg is batting .353 and has five doubles, two triples, two homers and 20 RBIs. Dalton Atnip enters with a .313 average and has driven in 22 runs.
“Rowlett is a very good baseball team with a strong defense, especially up the middle,” Howard said. “Their pitchers throw a lot of strikes and compete around the strike zone and offensively their numbers are strong from (1-9 in their lineup), so it’s definitely going to be a challenge.”
The Red Raiders come into this series having scored a combined 27 runs in their past three games, two of those 10-run rule victories over Longview and North Mesquite. Lee lost 7-4 at Heath.
“One thing in our favor is we sort have been must-win for weeks now,” Howard said. “We are just going to continue to try and play the best baseball we can play and let the chips fall where they may.”
Raider Rap: This is the third postseason meeting in 10 years between Lee and Rowlett, who will be in the same District 11-6A beginning in the fall. In 2003, the Red Raiders lost the series 2-1, edged out 5-4 in the third game. In 2007, Lee dropped the series opener by one run before coming back to win Games 2 and 3 to advance. In 2008, Rowlett swept Lee in two games. … Mike Carter Field has not been kind to Lee in the playoffs, with the Red Raiders dropping five of their last six postseason games played at MCF. Lee’s last playoff win at home came in 2010 against Temple.