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Dawgs close district with 9-6 win over Wolves; root for Ellison to best Midway tonight
By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press
 
KILLEEN - The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs have struggled lately to get production from the back half of their lineup. The Dawgs have just eight total hits from the sixth through ninth batters in 46 at-bats of their last four district losses.
 
The Dawgs’ bottom four hitters surpassed that number in one night in a 9-6 win over the Shoemaker Grey Wolves on Tuesday that clinched at least a share of third place.
 
“It’s big to come through with some hits that came through in big situations,” said Copperas Cove head baseball coach Dusty Brittain.
 
The bottom half of the lineup comprised of Terrance Chamberlin, Jeremi Hawkins, Neeko Kirk and Brandon Williams, combined for 10 hits in 16 at-bats to lead the Dawgs to the must-win victory on the road at Shoemaker’s Charger Field.
 
Senior Neeko Kirk led the way with two timely RBI singles to center field as part of a 3-for-4 night with two RBIs and a run. He laced one over the bag in the fifth inning to score Chamberlin to break a 5-5 tie after Chamberlin doubled to get in scoring position.
 
“He doesn’t have great numbers coming in but he’s been putting good bat to ball,” Brittain said of Kirk. “He’s been doing it in practice and out here so it’s good to see his hard work pay off. He’s been working after practice to try and get better and I’m proud for him to come through tonight with that big night.”
 
Kirk then completed Cove’s scoring with another RBI single to centerfield that scored Hawkins from second after doubling to reach for a 9-5 Cove lead heading into the seventh.
 
“I just knew I had to get my confidence with a soft-throwing guy up there,” said Kirk. “I came through for my team. We needed to get a win here to have a chance to get that third seed. We got the job done and we also had help from Belton tonight beating Midway.”
 
A triple my sophomore designated hitter Tyler Ingram got the Cove scoring started in the top of the third. He plated Colby Jost who was pinch-running after catcher Cameron Johnson singled to left field. Ingram then scored on an error by third baseman Miles Conner off the hard-hit liner by Chamberlin.
 
The Grey Wolves responded with four runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a 4-2 lead into the fourth frame.
 
Singles by Kyle Figueroa and Burt Cruz put runners on and a pair of Cove errors allowed those two runners to score.
 
Another error, this one a throwing one, allowed Jose Hernandez to reach and Jose Casillas made them pay for the errors with a wind-aided two-run home run over the left field fence that put the Wolves in front 4-2.
 
A solo home run by Cove senior Michael Hays gave Cove back the lead at 5-4 after a triple by Williams, an RBI single by senior Tim Bechtold and a sacrifice fly ball by Johnson plated two runs for the 4-4 tie.
 
The Grey Wolves knotted the game again in the bottom of the fourth when Colby Williams scored on an error after singling to third base to reach. Figueroa batted Williams to third before the error.
 
After the Kirk single again broke the tie in the top of the fifth, Williams singled to right to advance Kirk before Johnson knocked him home on a single to short for the 7-5 Cove lead in the middle of the fifth.
 
A two-out double by Hawkins gave Cove the 8-5 lead by scoring Josh Carbajal, who was hit by a pitch to reach, before Kirk closed it out with the single that scored Hawkins.
 
A fielding error by second baseman Hawkins on a routine double-play allowed the Grey Wolves to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh before another double-play ball was turned by Hawkins to take two runners off the pads and two outs on the score board. Alton Martin managed to score from third during the play to bring the Wolves within three.
 
“Things happen,” said Brittain about the error. “This game is a crazy game. We had a chance to roll a double play to get within reach of the win but didn’t get it done.
 
“I told the guys, ‘we have to be able to make these plays against these really good playoffs teams – the No.1 and No. 2 seeds. We probably don’t get a win tonight if we are playing those. We just need to continue to improve and approach every day like we don’t want it to be the last.”
 
A fly out to Carbajal at shortstop by Casillas ended the Wolves’ threat and the game.
 
Chamberlin was 2-for-4 with a double, a run and an RBI from the six hole. Hawkins was also 2-for-4 with a double, a run and an RBI from the seventh spot. Kirk led with his 3-for-4 night from the eighth spot and Williams was 2-for-3 with a triple and a run from the nine hole.
 
“Good teams have a solid nine all the way through,” said Kirk. “We’ve been struggling here lately, us bottom guys, but tonight I think we came through and showed we deserved to be in the starting lineup and that we’re are a good team – top to bottom.”
 
Leadoff batter Bechtold added 1-for-2 with three walks, a run and an RBI while Hays and Ingram each added 1-for-5 nights with a run and an RBI each.
 
Cruz was a perfect 3-for-3 with a run to lead the Grey Wolves followed by Figueroa (2-for-3, R), Williams (1-for-2, R) Casillas (1-for-3, R, 2RBIs), Conner (1-for-3, RBI) and Martin (1-for-4, R).
 
Carbajal picked up the win from the bump for Cove. He surrendered five runs (two earned on seven hits while striking out six, walking two and allowing one home run in five innings.
 
The freshman Jost picked up the save. He allowed one earned run on three hits while fanning one and walking one in two innings.
 
Drake Mason suffered the loss for the Wolves. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He also had no strikeouts, walked three and gave up a home run.
 
The Dawgs now become fans as they travel to Killeen to root on the Ellison Eagles as they face Midway. A win by Ellison gives Cove third place all alone but if Midway wins, the teams will likely hold a playoff game on Saturday.
 
“We’re Ellison fans this week, hoping they can get that win,” said Brittain. “Regardless, we’re going to be tied with (Midway) so we’ll see where it goes from there but, if we can get some help, we’ll sure take it at this point.”
 
An Ellison win would simplify thing for Cove but Kirk says they’re not counting on it.
 
“It would be awesome but we can’t rely on that,” he said. “We have to go into these next three days of practice getting ready for Midway. If we get lucky that Ellison knocks them off then that’s a huge help for us but we can’t be lackadaisical and we need to be focused and ready for Midway on Saturday.”

 

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