Big innings have been a staple of Brownwood's 11 wins in the last 12 outings, and that continued Monday night at Morris Southall Field as the Lions used an eight-run fourth to finish off the Snyder Tigers, 13-3.
The Lions (14-5, 2-0) remained atop the district standings with the victory, jumping out to a 5-0 lead through two innings. Snyder (11-15, 0-4) tallied its first run in the top of the fourth and Brownwood fired back with the clinching eight-spot.
“We're starting to figure it out a little bit,” said Lions second-year head coach Blandon Hancock. “We're starting to score runs when we need to score runs and get key hits when we need to get key hits all throughout the lineup and that was evident when we scored eight in the fourth.”
Leading 5-1, the Brownwood half of the fourth began with a Hayden Donahoo single to center field followed by a Hunter Leonard walk. Gavon Clemons singled home both Donahoo and Leonard for a 7-1 edge. Leonard later scored on a wild pitch ahead of walks to Rylan Reagan and Carlos Benites and a single by Caleb Hernandez. Grayson Swanzy's two-RBI double to center field to drive in Reagan and Hernandez. An RBI double by Reece Rodgers plated Benites, which extended the advantage to 10-1. An RBI sacrifice fly by Donahoo knocked in Swanzy, while a two-RBI double by Leonard brought home Rodgers and Kittrell, who walked, with final runs.
Hernandez worked four innings to pick up the victory, allowing one run on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Leading 13-1, Reagan pitched to three batters in the fifth, walking them all, before Swanzy came on to record the final three outs, issuing two walks with a strikeout.
“Caleb had his pitch count up there, he had 98 pitches when he finished the fourth inning,” Hancock said. “We brought some guys in to try and get them some work and walked the bases loaded, then walked a run in and then decided to get three outs.”
Brownwood grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first inning as Kittrell reached on an error to start the frame, Donahoo singled and Clemons walked to fill the sacks. Kittrell came home on a wild pitch to start the scoring, then Reagan followed with a bullet two-RBI double down the third base line.
The Lions stretched the lead to 5-0 in the second as Rodgers singled ahead of a two-run home run to left field by Kittrell.
“The thing about our lineup is anybody can hit at any position any night, and Cain had a big hit with a two-run homer,” Hancock said. “We saw this guy (Snyder pitcher Jake Chavez) last year and he beat us last year in Snyder. We knew what he was going to have, what he was going to bring to the plate. The kids followed the approach and went out and did it.”
The Lions will be back in action at 7 p.m. Thursday as they host No. 4 Abilene Wylie (11-2, 1-0), the two-time defending state champion, with the top spot in District 5-4A at stake.
“This is what we play for, this is what I came to Brownwood for,” Hancock said. “No one can deny Abilene Wylie has a mystique about them, they have for a long time and they win a lot of games just because of their mystique. We're trying to build that here, and I think we're going to give them a run for their money. We're going to give them every thing that they want.”