Bulldawgs maintain grip on 4th with 8-1 win over Waco on senior night
By TJ MAXWELL
The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs’ baseball team needed to hold off a hobbled, but dangerous, Waco Lions’ squad Tuesday night to keep pace with the district leaders.
Strong showings on the mound by junior starter Chris Lingo and sophomore reliever Rusty Cochran sparked the defensive effort while patience at the plate and small ball led the Cove offense in the 8-1 Bulldawg win.
“I’ve got to hand it to Waco,” said Copperas Cove head baseball coach Bob Macy. “They have 10 kids on their team, and they compete. They have gotten a lot better this year.”
Coach Macy was glad to see his team keep the pedal to the floor against the Lions with one district win.
“That’s always something to worry about when you have 16- and 17-year-old kids,” said Macy. “You think you have the game won before you step on the field. You want to think that, but you also want to make sure you go out and take care of business.”
The Dawgs combined for just seven hits in the contest, but patience allowed another eight base runners to reach on walks and hit batsmen. Junior Cam Petet managed the only multiple hit night for the Dawgs as he finished 2 for 3 with a run batted in.
Freshman Travis Sanders and senior Josh Ropple added just one hit each, but they were both timely hits that resulted in a run and a pair of RBIs each.
The Lions struck first with a single run in the top of the second inning.
A double by Waco’s Jordan Fuller put a runner in scoring position and a line drive to centerfield by Andrew Morris knocked him home for the 1-0 Waco lead.
“I did struggle in the beginning and that’s what cost me so many pitches, especially in that second inning,” said Lingo. “I felt comfortable but today I wasn’t hitting my spots like I should’ve been. I’m just thankful I have an amazing defense, one of the best in the district.”
The Bulldawgs responded with four runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a 4-1 lead into the third inning.
A lead-off single by senior Nick Izquierdo put a runner on and a hard-hit double to left field quickly knotted the contest at 1-all.
A walk by senior Jacob Wagner and a single to left field by senior Justin Velesky then loaded the bases for the Bulldawgs with no outs.
An RBI single to left field by Cochran scored senior courtesy runner Steele Straley and appeared to score Wagner after the ball rolled away from the Waco catcher’s glove but Wagner was called out by the home plate umpire for the first out of the inning.
A single to left by Sanders then knocked home the remaining two runners for the 4-1 Copperas Cove lead.
After three up, four down showings by both squads in the third inning, the Bulldawgs added to their lead in the fourth.
Lingo threw his fifth strikeout of the game to get the first out of the fourth inning after allowing a walk to Will Carl and another base hit to Fuller to put two runners on.
The Cove defense did the rest. A fly ball to shallow centerfield off the bat of Waco’s Morris was caught by senior Michael Goudeau and fired to Petet at home plate for the double play on Carl to get out of the inning unscathed.
“Everybody was yelling, ‘runner, runner,’ but in my head I was thinking he’s not going,” said Goudeau. “It wasn’t the best throw, but it did the job.”
Three consecutive two-out walks by Sanders, Goudeau and senior Colby Jost again loaded the bases for the Bulldawgs before Sanders scored on a wild pitch for the 5-1 Cove lead. Ropple then cleared the bases on a two-RBI triple to the centerfield fence for the 7-1 score before scoring himself on a ground out RBI by Izquierdo.
Lingo added two more strikeouts to the stat sheet in the top of the fifth inning and the Lions stole runs away in the bottom half of the inning.
A single by Petet put a runner on for Wagner, who’s line drive shot to right field was snagged out of the air by Matt Silva and Straley was doubled off at second to end the threat despite two more Cove runners reaching of free bases.
The Bulldawgs executed their second double play of the game to end another threat when Fuller grounded to Sanders at shortstop for the 6-5-3 double play to Wagner at second and Velesky at first. Walks by Sam Barron and Carl put runners on for the Lions.
Cochran then closed the show with three strikeouts against three batters in the top half of the seventh to secure the win.
Petet (2 for 3, RBI, 2B), Sanders (1 for 3, R, 2RBI, BB), Ropple (1 for 3, R, 2RBI, BB, 3B), Izquierdo (1 for 3, R), Velesky (1 for 2, R), and Cochran (1 for 2, R, RBI, BB) accounted for Cove’s seven hits. Goudeau and Jost added a run and a walk each while Wagner added a walk and Straley added a run.
“We did a good job,” said Macy. “We had other chances to score, but we hit the bat well and we’re getting better.”
Fuller was 2 for 3 with a run and Morris was 1 for 3 to account for Waco’s three hits.
Lingo earned the win on the mound for the Bulldawgs. He allowed one earned run on three hits while striking out eight and walking three in six innings of action.
“Chris Lingo threw a good game,” said Macy. “He was more consistent on the mound with throwing strikes.”
Quintin Nagy suffered the loss on the mound for the Lions. He allowed eight runs (seven earned) on six hits while striking out three and walking five in 3 2/3 innings of work.
The Bulldawgs (12-9-1, 6-3 in District 12-6A) currently sit in fourth place, a half a game back of Ellison (7-3).
The Bulldawgs host the Harker Heights Knights (11-9-1, 5-5) tonight in their fourth-consecutive home contest at Bulldawg Field.
“We’ve got to get on a roll here,” Macy said on the importance of a win tonight. “We’re not taking them lightly, that’s for sure. They are a good ball team and they swing it well.
“Josh Ropple will be on the mound. He’s been consistent. Hopefully, he comes out and throws a good game for us.”