Bulldawg baseball falls on 6th-inning solo home run by Knights’ Daniel Cole
By TJ MAXWELL
HARKER HEIGHTS – In a game where every pitch and every at-bat mattered, the Harker Heights Knights were able to take advantage of one more mistake than the Bulldawgs and it was the game winner.
Harker Heights senior pitcher Daniel Cole connected with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a 3-3 tie for a 4-3 win in the first game of the two-game series in a rain-postponed affair Wednesday in Harker Heights.
“I think the kids competed,” said Copperas Cove head coach Dusty Brittain. “It was just a matter of coming through with the big plays in the big moments. Hats off to Harker Heights because they came through with the big play in the big moment and we didn’t.”
Early miscues put the Dawgs in a 2-0 hole after the first inning and they weren’t able to capitalize on a bases-loaded no out situation in the top of the 2nd inning that could have changed the complexion of the game.
Singles by Tyler Ingram and Peyton Fox sandwiched a walk by Jaylen Smith to load the base for Cove but a pair of fly outs and a strike out at the bottom of the lineup negated the Dawgs scoring opportunities.
Cove again had an opportunity to swing the momentum in their direction in the top of the third after sophomore pitcher Cameron Johnson and the Bulldawg defense sat the Knights down in order in the bottom half of the second inning.
A leadoff single up the third-base line by Michael Goudeau and a rip to left field by Colby Jost put two more runners on with no outs and a sacrifice bunt by Cameron Johnson put both runners in scoring position but a pair of fly outs again negated Cove’s threat but not before they got one run back when Goudeau scored from third on a wild by Heights’ hurler Jacob Mitchell.
“I told the guys, ‘games like these with two good teams it’s going to be all about execution,’ and I think that was the deal,” said Brittain. “We gave them two runs in the first inning when they shouldn’t have scored a run. Then in the second inning with the bases loaded and no outs and we didn’t score. I thought that was huge.
“Then we get a sac bunt with runners at second and third and one out and we don’t score. Missing those opportunities against a good team like that, they’re going to make you pay.”
The Bulldawgs were able to take advantage of some Harker Heights miscues in the fourth inning when Cedric Camacho reached on an error on Heights’ second baseman Kaven Jones and Nick Izquierdo reached on a walk to put two runners on with one out. Another fielding error by Jones allowed both runners to score on the hard-hit grounder by Goudeau. A groundout ended the threat but not before Cove knotted the game at 3-all.
Cove managed three more base runners in the fifth and another on the sixth but they could not get them home. Then Cole, coming in to close out the game from the mound, walked Johnson to lead off the seventh before fanning three-consecutive batters to secure his home run game-winner.
The Knights also threatened in the bottom of the fourth inning with a hit batsman and two walks juicing the bases with one out but Johnson induced a fly out to right field and pitched a strikeout to end the threat.
Ingram (2 for 4), Goudeau (1 for 3, R, BB), Fox (1 for 3, BB) and Jost (1 for 4) accounted for Cove’s five hits.
Cole (2 for 3, R, RBI, HR), Jacob Mitchell (2 for 2, 2BB), Spencer Young (2 for 3, 2RBI) and Tre Martin (1 for 3, RBI, BB) accounted for the Knights’ seven hits.
Martin picked up the win for Heights with one inning of work where he allowed no runs or hits while striking out one and walking two. Cole picked up the save in one inning of work. He Struck out three and walked one in four batters faced. Mitchell allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits while fanning three and walking three.
Cameron Johnson suffered the loss for Cove. He surrendered four runs (three earned) on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings while striking out five and walking five.
The Dawgs had little time to reflect on the loss as the postponement and upcoming Easter holiday forced their series to be played on back-to-back days. Cove hosted the Knights for game two last night but results were not available as of press time.
“I’m proud of our kids for the way they fought and the way they act,” said Brittain after Wednesday’s loss. “There’s no time to sit here and sulk on this one because we have another big one tomorrow.
“We can’t think about what we could’ve done or should’ve done. It’s back to work because we have a big one tomorrow. A win tomorrow puts us in a really good position going into those last two series.”
The is expected to be a barnburner with Heights’ starting the righty ace Cole and Cove starting the lefty ace Jaylen Smith.
“Jaylen has been our guy and he’s really good at home,” said Brittain. “He had a big win last week and we’re expecting big things from him. I know he’s going to compete well.
“We know what we’re going to see (from Cole). For a lot of these kids, this is three years in a row seeing Daniel multiple times. We know what he’s capable of, we just have to put better plans in place for him to give us our best opportunity of putting runs together.”
The Bulldawgs (11-11, 4-5 in District 8-6A before Thursday’s game) sit tied for fifth-place with Belton (4-5) in a race for four playoff spots. San Angelo Central (8-1) leads the district followed by Waco Midway (6-3), Harker Heights (6-3) and Ellison (5-4).
The Bulldawgs finish the regular season with two games against Killeen (2-7) and two more against Belton.