Dawgs fall 2-1 on walk-off single by Eagles’ Julien Jimenez
By TJ MAXWELL
It was a classic pitcher’s duel where neither team could take advantage of their limited opportunities until Ellison’s Julien Jimenez connected with his second RBI single of the contest for the walk-off win in the bottom of the seventh inning to win 2-1 over the visiting Copperas Cove Bulldawgs Tuesday at Ellison High.
“Those (close losses) are tough on the kids,” said Copperas Cove head coach Dusty Brittain. “We had opportunities early. We had runners in scoring position and we just needed one big hit. When it comes to game in this district and this tight race, it’s going to be about who comes through with the big hits.
“Tonight, they came through with two big hits and we came through with one big hit and they won 2-1. Hats off to them. That was a good game and a good pitcher’s duel. We’ve got to regroup and prepare to go get one Thursday.”
With Ellison senior Edward Eakin and Cove senior Cameron Johnson dialing it up on the mound, it would come down to who could find the right pitch to hit at the most opportune time and the Eagles were able to provide that one clutch hit.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the seventh inning, the Dawgs would have to score to keep their hopes alive and an RBI double by senior Jaylen Smith did just that.
A single by Justin Velesky off the Eagles’ relief pitcher Preston Mills put pinch runner Austin Reneau on the base paths and a stolen base by Reneau put him in scoring position.
Smith then hammered a shot down the left field line that rolled past the outfielder to the wall. Smith tried to advance the double into a triple but was tagged out sliding into third to stop the Dawgs’ rally at just one run.
Knotted 1-1 heading into the bottom half of the seventh, the Eagles would need a score to prevent extra innings.
A high fly ball by Brian Gardner found a gap in shallow left field in front of a diving Nick Izquierdo to put a runner on for the Eagles before a fielder’s choice on the sacrifice by Elias Rodriguez put Gardner out at second.
Rodriguez was then batted into scoring position on a groundout by Julian Vascot.
That’s when Jimenez connected for his second tie-breaking hit of the contest but this one was for the 2-1 walk-off win.
It looked like it may be another typical fast start for the Bulldawgs when Micheal Goudeau drew a leadoff walk to begin the contest and two more Cove runners earned their way to the base paths in the top of the second inning.
Eakin, however, closed the door on those opportunities. After allowing three baserunners in the first two innings, Eakin held the Dawgs to just one baserunners while retiring nine batters over the next three innings.
“He does a great job of keeping you off balance,” Brittain said of Eakin. “He throws a lot of off-speed at every count. He had us guessing from time to time and off balance. He’s good. He’s their guy for a reason. He’s going to be tough to score runs against.”
The Eagles had some early scoring opportunities of the own. A leadoff double by Eakin put a runner on with no outs for the Eagles in the bottom of the second but a groundout and the first two strikeouts of the game by Johnson ended the threat.
The Eagles threatened again in the bottom of the third inning when Jimenez singled and Mills walked with two outs, but Jimenez was caught stealing third to end the threat.
Jimenez broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth inning when he knocked home Gardner after he was hit by a pitch to reach and advanced to third on passed balls. A walk by Vascot put two runners on for Jimenez who singled to right field for the RBI.
Jimenez finished 3 for 4 for two RBIs to lead the Ellison bats. Eakin (1 for 2, BB) and Gardner (1 for 2, R) added hits for the Eagles and E. Rodriguez added a score.
The Bulldawgs were led by Justin Velesky’s 2 for 3 night. Smith was 1 for 3 with the team’s only RBI while Josh Ropple and Tyler Ingram were each 1 for 3. Both teams finished with five hits in the contest.
Mills picked up the win in relief for Eakin. Mills allowed no earned runs on one hit while striking out one in 2/3 of an inning on the bump. Eakin finished with one earned run on four hits while fanning nine and walking three.
Ropple suffered the loss in relief for Johnson. He allowed one earned run on two hits in one inning. Johnson allowed one earned run on three hits while striking out 10 and walking four in six innings.
The Dawgs returned to action last night with the home game of the home-away series with Ellison (results not available at press time). They hit the road to San Angelo on Tuesday for game one of the two-game series before returning home to face the Bobcats next Friday.
“I just told them, ‘We’ve got to go back to work. We had a little bit of adversity. We had opportunities but didn’t come through. Now it’s about how you respond,’” said Brittain. “With weather being the way it may be, we may not get to do much over the next couple of days outside of the cage and gym-type workouts. It’s just about how we prepare ourselves for the next one.