The Brownwood Lions built an early lead, lost it, then rallied in what proved to be their final at-bat for their first home victory of the season — a 4-3 triumph over the Argyle Liberty Christian Warriors Thursday afternoon at Morris Southall Field to kick off the annual Bluebonnet Invitational.
“Today was a good experience for us,” said Lions head coach Blandon Hancock. “It was the first day we’ve had our entire team out here. With us just getting everybody out here this week, I wanted to play six games at home so we could get at-bats and see kids pitch. Right now is the time you find out who can go for you.”
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Reece Rodgers extended the frame with a two-out single to left field. C.J. Hanley then followed with a towering RBI double to left field that Liberty Christian couldn’t reach, which allowed Rodgers to score the tying run. Cain Kittrell followed with a laser RBI triple down the third base line, which plated Hanley with the decisive run.
“I was proud of the guys for staying in there and coming back and getting big hits when we needed them to get us ahead,” Hancock said.
Up 4-3 in the top of the seventh, reliever Hunter Day walked the first batter he faced on four pitches, but retired the next three in order to finish off the victory.
“Hunter Day did a good job coming in and shutting the door for us,” Hancock said.
The Lions led 2-0 after four innings, pushing across their first run in their very first at-bat. Brownwood drew three walks and was plunked twice, but managed just one run in the first when Hanley — who was hit by a pitch — scored on a wild pitch.
Brownwood left the bases loaded in the first, and stranded three more in the third inning, but produced a second run in the bottom of the fourth. Jacob Hataway reached on a one-out error and came home when Hanley ripped a two-out RBI double to the right field wall.
Starting pitcher Mason Rhyden pitched four shutout innings, but ran into some trouble in the fifth where the Lions committed a pair of errors that allowed Liberty Christian to draw even.
“Mason Rhyden did a heck of a job pitching,” Hancock said of the starter who allowed no earned runs on one hit with five walks and two strikeouts. “He kept us in the game. They scratched across some runs on some squirrely things — a 3-0 count hit, I mean no one swings on 3-0.”
Jakob Dorsett came on in the sixth as the Warriors manufactured another unearned run to take a 3-2 lead. Dorsett yielded a hit and a walk with one strikeout in an inning of work.
Brownwood finished with seven hits — three by Hanley and one each by Kittrell, Hataway, Rodgers and Isyah Campos.
The Lions (2-3) will play a tripleheader Friday — an 11 a.m. rematch against Liberty Christian followed by a 2 p.m. doubleheader against the Ranger College JV.
“Liberty Christian can’t play Ranger Junior College because of TAPPS rules,” Hancock said. “Ranger played the early game today and we were supposed to play them tonight, but they asked to switch.”