CCLP/TJ MAXWELL - Cove catcher Michael Goudeau tags out Midway’s Couper Cornblum in the first inning of their 8-6A clash on Tuesday.

Slow start cost Dawgs in 7-3 loss to Panthers in 8-6A opener


Cove Leader-Press

Head coach Dusty Brittain likes the effort he is seeing from his team, despite losing five of the last six contests, including Tuesday’s District 8-6A opener against the Midway Panthers at home.

He’s not too pleased with the results, however. Early defensive mistakes and struggles at the plates put them in a 6-0 hole before their bats came alive too little, too late.

“We worked ourselves out early,” said Brittain. “We swung at a lot of bad pitches but the kids fought hard.

“That’s one of the things I was pleased with. We came through and scored three runs late and knocked (senior pitcher Andrew Brown) out of the game a little bit. I hope that’s a little bit of a momentum-builder going into Friday.”

The Bulldawgs’ first hit on the night came in the sixth inning from the back end of the lineup when Nick Izquierdo slid into first base beat out a hard-hit shot to first baseman Carson Griffin.

A single by junior Jaylen Smith in the ninth hole and sophomore Michael Goudeau getting hit by the pitch of Brown loaded the bases for junior Cameron Johnson. Johnson drew a walk to score Izquierdo before Smith advanced home on a fielder’s choice off the bat of senior Tyler Ingram to cut the Midway lead to five, 7-2.

The Dawgs added their final run in the seventh inning when Smith connected on a two-out triple to the fence to score Cedric Camacho from first base. Camacho reached on a walk two batters earlier.

With the late rally and new format where teams have a home and away game against each other in the same week, Brittain likes his chances in the rematch tonight in Waco.

“I think it gives our kids a little confidence and a little fight going forward,” Brittain said of the late rally. “We’ve got our guy on the mound on Friday and we feel pretty confident when Jaylen’s throwing.

“We have no panic. It’s game one and we didn’t execute early. We had some mistakes that cost some runs. When you play quality teams like Midway, those things are going to come back to bite you. We just need to learn from it, move on and try to get better.”

The Panthers took the lead early when leadoff batter Clayton Stewart singled to reach before stealing second, getting batted to third by senior Matthew Miles and advancing home on a wild pitch.

A double-play on a long fly ball to right field that was fired to third base by Smith for out two limited the damage in the inning to just one run.

The Panthers increased their lead to 3-0 when errors and passed balls allowed senior Chris Olivas and Griffin to reach base and score. Olivas scored on a fielding error that allowed the hit of Griffin to roll all the way to the wall for three bases and Griffin scored on a passed ball soon after.

Another free base put sophomore John Davis on the base paths before a single by Griffin drove him home from second and a single by Brown drove Griffin in for the 6-0 Panther lead.

Another double play by Cove, this one a 4-6-3 double play from second baseman Camacho to shortstop Colby Jost for out one and first baseman Tyler Ingram for out two negated any further Midway damage.

The Panthers scored their final run in the top of the sixth on a single by junior Riley Lambert that scored Olivas who also singled to reach.

Smith led the Cove bats with 2 for 3 hitting with one run batted in and one run scored. Izquierdo finished 1 for 3 with a run while Johnson and Ingram added an RBI each.

The Panthers were lead by Brown (1 for 1, RBI), Stewart (2 for 3, R), Will Rigney (1 for 2, 2BB), Olivas (1 for 3), Couper Cornblum (1 for 3), Caden Henderson (1 for 4, R), Griffin (1 for 4, RBI, R) and Lambert (1 for 4, RBI).

Brown picked up the win. He allowed three earned runs on three hits while fanning seven and walking two in 6 1/3 innings. Johnson suffered the loss for Cove. He surrendered six runs (three earned) on six hits while striking out two and walking five.

“I thought Cameron did a pretty good job,” said Brittain. “He gave up some balls up in the zone early but he threw strikes for the most part and that’s something he’s had a little problem with and we made those mistakes that didn’t help him.”

Brittain hopes to earn the split tonight in Waco.

“Obviously we’ve got to clean up some stuff defensively but if we can go score in the first or second it’s a total different game and a momentum swing,” he said. “I think we have to find that offense early. We put some good bats on the ball but we hit it right at people. That’s what we’ve been doing for a week and a half now. We just have to keep swinging and they are going to drop for us.”

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