The Brownwood Lions chalked up a victory in their opener of the Bluebonnet Classic at Morris Southall Field Thursday afternoon, but dug a hole to deep to climb out of in the nightcap.
Despite losing a two-run lead early, the Lions knocked off the Whitney Wildcats, 5-3, in their first home game of the season. Brownwood then yielded 12 runs during Breckenridge’s first three trips to the plate and a feverish rally came up short in a 13-9 loss to the Buckaroos.
In the win over Whitney, the Lions took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Reece Rodgers, who singled to left field with two outs, scored on a passed ball after Cain Kittrell extended the frame by reaching on an error.
Brownwood pushed the lead to 2-0 in the fourth inning as Gavon Clemons walked with one out, advanced on a wild pitch, then scored from second when Carlos Benitez reached on a two-out throwing error.
Aided by four walks from pitcher Caleb Hernandez in the top of the fifth inning, Whitney seized a 3-2 advantage. Brayden Hennig doubled home Nate Callaway, who singled, then Hunter Watson’s RBI ground out to short plated Gage Hightower, who walked, to even the score. Stephen Mathison later reached on an RBI infield single to deep short that allowed Hennig to tally the go-ahead run.
The Lions immediately responded in the bottom of the fifth as Damion Jones led off with a double to left field, then Rodgers sacrificed Jones to third. With one out, Kittrell reached on an error at shortstop that allowed Jones to score the tying run. With two outs, Rylan Reagan tripled down the third base line, plating Kittrell as the Lions regained a 4-3 edge. Clemons followed with a triple of his own to plate Reagan as an insurance run.
Despite a shaky fifth inning, Hernandez went the distance to collect the victory, allowing three earned runs on six hits with four strikeouts and four walks.
The Lions finished with just five hits but three went for extra bases. Along with triples by Clemons and Reagan, Jones added a double and single and Rodgers accounted for the other hit.
“When you play lower divisions the pitching is good, but not the quality that we’re used to seeing, so we have to make an adjustment at the plate,” said Lions head coach Blandon Hancock. “We got ahead early, squandered the lead a little bit with one bad inning where again we gave a team runs. The effort is all there, we just need to fix the little things because in both games we gave away too many runs.”
In the loss to Breckenridge, the Lions gave up four runs in the top of the first, one in the second and seven runs in the third.
“We had four errors in the first two innings and they scored a lot of runs off our mistakes,” Hancock said. “You can’t do that against any team.”
Down a dozen, the Lions pushed their first three runs across the plate in the bottom of the third as Clemons tripled home Rodgers, who walked, and Kittrell and Reagan, who were both hit by a pitch.
The Lions crept closer in the bottom of the fourth, reducing Breckenridge’s lead to 12-5. Grayson Swanzy’s RBI fielder’s choice plated Hayden Donahoo, who walked to start the frame. Clemons then picked up his fourth RBI of the game on a bases-loaded walk that brought home Rodgers, who walked.
Breckenridge added a run in the top of the sixth before the Lions made one last gasp in their last at-bat of the two-hour limit contest.
In the bottom of the sixth, back-to-back doubles to start the inning by Benitez and Donahoo closed the gap to 13-6. With one out, Rodgers doubled to left field to plate Donahoo. A walk by Kittrell and a shallow single by Swanzy loaded the bases. Reagan followed with an RBI sacrifice fly that brought home Rodgers. After an intentional walk to Clemons, Jakob Dorsett reached on an error that brought home Kittrell, trimming the deficit to four runs before the rally was quashed.
“I was super proud of the effort, we just have to learn from our mistakes and not give people eight runs,” Hancock said. “I was proud of the fight and proud of them for putting quality at-bats together, but we waited too late. We should have been putting these quality at-bats in during the first couple of innings and we didn’t. We had a few quick innings where we went one-two-three. We were giving them runs and then not coming up and answering at the plate, which gives them confidence and ways to stay ahead of us in the game.”
The Lions will battle Burkburnett at 4 p.m. today then face Whitney again in a rematch at 6:30 p.m.