Dawg Baseball drops tough one to Midway

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press

Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way and that was literally the case for the Bulldawgs in their 4-2 loss to the Midway Panthers on Friday.
The Bulldawgs responded from last Tuesday’s 7-0 shutout by Midway in their only loss in 17 games to take an early lead against the Panthers at home on Friday but a late blooper found a hole to give Midway a 4-2 win.
“First, it’s competition,” Cove head coach Dusty Brittain said about the difference in the first 16 games and the last two losses. “These guys are elite and that’s a big part of it. Also, it’s run production. We’ve had first innings just like tonight throughout tournament play. Tonight, we had the first inning that was big but then we weren’t able to capitalize on some situations later on.
“They had one clutch hit and we didn’t, and I think that proved to be the difference.”
Leading 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning, the Bulldawgs had an opportunity to blow open the game when shortstop Colby Jost ripped a shot up the middle with the bases loaded but it clipped the pitcher’s mound, bouncing right to Midway shortstop Couper Cornblum for a double play and Nick Izquierdo popped out in foul territory to end the threat at just two runs.
After Michael Goudeau doubled to center field to start the inning, Josh Ropple singled up the middle to put two runners on at second and third after Ropple advanced on a passed ball. 
An RBI single by Cameron Johnson then plated Goudeau and Ropple scored on the double play for a 2-0 Cove lead after one.
Cove returned the favor with a 5-4-3 double play in the top of the second to keep their 2-0 lead briefly.
The Panthers then knotted the game in the top of the third after sitting down the Cove batters in order in the bottom half of the second inning.
Joseph Redfield was hit by a pitch to put the leadoff batter on base before Ben Nelson connected on a line drive double to left field to score Redfield. An RBI double by leadoff batter Riley Lambert then knotted the game at 2-2, scoring pinch runner Logan Theilapape from third.
Neither team could muster more than one baserunner over the next three innings until an error off the hard ground ball by Johnson and an Izquierdo walk put two on for Cove in the bottom of the sixth inning but fly outs and pop outs ended the Cove threat.
A leadoff walk by Hunter Jones and a single by Nelson put two runners on for the Panthers in the top of the seventh inning and an intentional walk of Lambert juiced the bases for the Panthers.
Stewart then connected with the game winner on a shot that landed in the gap between second base and right field just in front of Cove’s Austin Reneau that scored two for the 4-2 score.
“That play, and there were a couple more that were just one little thing here and there and it’s a different ball game,” said Brittain. “If that ball in another foot further and the right fielder catches it, we go into the last inning trying to play for one for the win. It’s crazy how the game happens.”
A single by senior pitcher Jaylen Smith against Midway left-handed reliever Jackson Berry kept the Cove hopes alive but a fly out and a strikeout ended Cove’s chances.
“We would love to have another shot at those guys but it’s probably not going to happen,” said Brittain. “The bottom line is, we’ve got a lot more opponents in this district that are good that we’ve got to go get and leave this one in the past”
Jost ( 1 for 3, RBI), Goudeau (1 for 3, R, BB), Johnson (1 for 3, RBI) and Smith (1 for 3) accounted for Cove’s four hits while Goudeau and Ropple accounted for the two Cove runs.
Smith suffered the loss on the mound for Cove. He surrendered four earned runs on five hits while striking out 10 and walking five in seven innings.
“He’s a gamer,” Brittain said about Smith’s performance on the mound. “When it comes down to the big moment, he wants the ball in his hand and he lives for that moment. I’m sure this one eats at him a little bit to have a Texas leaguer be the one that defines it at the end of the game. 
“Hats off to the kid. He pitched a great game. He had the pitch count down. He was attacking batters and being early in the strike zone and coming up with some big strike outs and some big moments with runners in scoring position.” 
Lambert (2 for 3, RBI, BB) Stewart ( 1 for 4, 2RBIs) and Nelson (2 for 2, BB) led the Midway bats. 
Berry picked up the win on the bump for the Panthers. He allowed just one hit while striking out two in 1 1/3 innings. Braden Bowels started the game where he allowed two earned runs on three hits while fanning six and walking four in 5 ½ innings. 
The Bulldawgs (14-2-2, 0-2 in District 8-6A) host Shoemaker tonight in the first game of the home-away series. 
“We’ve got to move on and get ready,” said Brittain. “This is only district game number two, so we have to get ready for the next one. 
“We’ve got to move on and get ready. This is only district game number two, so we have to get ready for the next one. 
“We have two in a row against Shoemaker. They’re 0-2 after losing two to Ellison so this is two we need to have.” 

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