Dawgs outlast Bobcats 10-8 in two-day contest
By TJ Maxwell
It took nearly 22 hours for the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs to avenge Tuesday’s walk-off loss to the San Angelo Central Bobcats in game two of the home-away series that began Friday night at 6 p.m. and concluded shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“All the delays and stuff were tough,” said Copperas Cove head coach Dusty Brittain after the win. “I felt like we were in great shape in that second inning last night and then for that to kill that rally.”
Cove’s Jacob Wagner broke the 8-8 tie with a two-RBI single on a 2-2 count in the bottom of the sixth inning and relief pitcher Josh Ropple struck out Central’s Bryson Murrell to close out the win.
“This feels really good,” said Wagner. “This is my first year starting on varsity and it feels great to help get the win for the team. “I was just telling myself that I need to put a ball in play to help the team win. He threw me one right down the middle and I took advantage of it.”
The win really felt good for Ropple after giving up the walk-off in Tuesday’s 10-9 loss to the Bobcats.
“It feels amazing, considering I was the guy that gave up the last two runs on walk offs,” he said. “But to strike out the guy that hit that walk-off on me on Tuesday was a good feeling in my heart.”
After a start and stop scenario that took 3 ½ hours to get through 1 1/2 innings on Friday night due to weather delays, the game was postponed with no outs and two runners on for the Bulldawgs with a 5-3 lead in the contest.
When play resumed on Saturday with a 40-degree temperature change and blustery wind conditions, the Bulldawgs cooled off as well with three consecutive strikeouts to end the threat established Friday night.
The Bobcats then took advantage of the bitter conditions to draw six walks and score on a pair of wild pitches and chase two Cove pitchers off the mound.
Trailing 6-5, Ropple entered the game with no outs and the bases loaded and quickly put down two batters before a hard-hit ground ball by Cole Nelson hopped over the glove of Cove third baseman Brian Hodges for two more runs before a fly out ended the inning and the five-run onslaught.
The Bulldawgs then began to slowly chip away at the Bobcats’ lead with runs in the next three innings.
Walks by lead-off batter Michael Goudeau and Cameron Johnson in the third slot, along with a single to right field by Ropple loaded the bases for senior Tyler Ingram grounded into the fielder’s choice to score Goudeau. A sacrifice fly by junior Colby Jost that scored Johnson then made it a one-point contest, 8-7.
Two more strikeouts and a ground out induced by Ropple then brought the Dawgs back to the plate with a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth.
Singles by Hodges and Jaylen Smith and a walk by Wagner again juiced the base for Cove but a pair of strikeouts looked like it may end the threat.
A RBI walk by Johnson then knotted the game at 8-all and a fly out by Ingram ended the Bulldawgs’ threat.
A four-up, three-down top of the sixth then set up the Dawgs for the go-ahead score in the bottom half of the inning. A pick-off throw by Ropple to Ingram at first caught Nelson for the third out with the cleanup hitter at the plate.
“I just knew that they brought the guy in to do one thing and that was to score and the only way he was going to do that is if he got on second,” said Ropple. “With two outs if you want to score, you have to steal. I saw it coming a little bit, so I decided to try it.”
Singles by Nick Izquierdo and Hodges then put runners on for the Dawgs and they both advanced on a wild pitch before Wagner roped the shot to center field for the two-RBI single.
Two fly outs and a strike out by Ropple then closed the game for the Dawgs.
“We needed to win this one,” said Brittain. “They came out played really well early and we didn’t. That kind of had me worried a little bit but the kids fought back, and we took that momentum in the fourth and it just carried. We came through with some big hits in big opportunities.”
Ropple got the win on the mound. He allowed no runs on two hits while striking out four and walking none in five innings of relief action.
“Josh came through with a big, big performance on the mound. To throw strikes out here in this condition was huge.”
Wagner (1 for 3, 2RBis, BB) only collected one hit on the night but it was a big one.
“The kid has been in a battle,” Brittain said of Wagner. “He came through with a big double on Tuesday and he’s been seeing it pretty well. I’m just proud of the kid for coming through in that moment.”
Hodges (2 for 3, 2R) and Goudeau (1 for 2, 3R, 2BB) and Johnson (1 for 1, 2R, 2RBI, 2BB) led the Dawgs at the plate. Ingram (1 for 4, R, RBI), Izquierdo (2 for 4, 2R), Ropple (1 for 4), Justin Velesky (1 for 1, RBI) and Smith (1 for 4) also collected hits for Cove and Jost added an RBI.
Jonathan Limon suffered the loss in relief. He allowed five earned runs on six hits while striking out five and walking five in 3 2/3 innings.
Nixon Brannan (2 for 3, R, 2RBI, BB) and Nelson (2 for 4, R) led the Bobcats’ bats.
The Dawgs (18-4-2, 4-4 in District 8-6A) return to action at home tonight against Harker Heights for the first game of the two-game series and they will close out the series Friday night in Heights.