Bulldawgs fall to Ellison 2-0 in pitcher’s duel for third place
By TJ MAXWELL
KILLEEN – Neither team could find its groove offensively as Copperas Cove pitcher Chris Lingo and Ellison Eagle ace Edward Eakin battled it out in a pitcher’s duel that saw just seven hits between the two teams Tuesday night at Eagle Field in Killeen.
A run in the bottom of the first inning would prove to be all Ellison would need, although they added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth inning of their 2-0 win over the Bulldawgs to claim sole possession of third place in the District 12-6A playoff chase.
“We just didn’t get the job done tonight at the plate,” said Copperas Cove head baseball coach Bob Macy. “We had (nine) strikeouts and eight pop ups and that tends to make it easy for the other team.”
A lead-off double and steal of third base by Julian Vascot put a runner in scoring position for the Eagles and a sacrifice fly ball to center field by Preston Mills put Vascot across the plate for a 1-0 Ellison lead.
Eakin continued to dominate as he retired all 12 Cove batters through four innings of action before his battery added another run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
A lead-off single by Julien Jimenez put the lead-off runner on for the Eagles for the fourth-consecutive inning. A dropped third strike then allowed Jimenez to advance to third base where a balk on Lingo allowed Jimenez to score for the 2-0 Ellison advantage.
The Bulldawgs broke the Eakin no-hitter with a two-out line-drive single to right field by junior Cam Petet. Senior Jacob Wagner then put two runners on for the Bulldawgs with a pop fly single to shallow right field which moved courtesy runner Steele Straley to third and Wagner to second but Eakin’s seventh strikeout of the night ended the Cove threat.
After the Eagles put their lead-off runner on for the fifth-consecutive inning on an error, Lingo induced a line out, a ground out and picked off Vascot at first to end the threat.
The Bulldawgs threatened again in the top of the sixth inning when freshman Travis Sanders connected on a one-out single to Jimenez at shortstop and senior Colby Jost drew a two-out walk.
A ground out by senior Josh Ropple ended the Dawgs’ threat.
The game concluded with three up, three down outings by both squads in the bottom of the sixth and top of the seventh for the final score of 2-0.
“We just have to get back to work tomorrow and get back to what we’re good at,” said Macy. “We need to get on base any way we can, hit the ball on the ground and force people to make plays on us. We didn’t do that tonight.”
Sanders, Petet and Wagner each went 1 for 3 to lead the Cove bats.
Vascot finished 1 for 2 with a run to lead the Eagles while Alex Oquendo (1 for 2), Jimenez (1 for 3, R) and Eakin (1 for 3) accounted for the rest of Ellison’s four hits.
Eakin picked up the win on the mound. He allowed no runs off of three hits while striking out nine and walking one in seven innings of work. Lingo suffered the loss for the Dawgs. He allowed two earned runs on two hits while striking out nine and walking one.
The Bulldawgs’ road doesn’t get any easier as they host the no. 22-ranked Midway Panthers (10-1), who are coming off their 12-2 win over district-leader Belton (11-1).
The Dawgs (7-4 in District 12-6A) need to win over the Panthers to maintain their slim lead over the Temple Wildcats (7-5) for that fourth and final playoff spot
“Our no. 1 Josh Ropple is going to start, and he has been solid al year,” said Macy. “(Midway is) a good team, but they are beatable. We’ve just got to execute at the plate and do what we’ve been doing. If we do that, we’ll be okay.”