Still putting together the pieces, the Brownwood Lions avenged a March 8 loss at the Lampasas tournament as they concluded their pre-district slate with a 9-6 triumph over the Clyde Bulldogs Tuesday night at Morris Southall Field.
The Lions (7-8), who dropped a 10-0 decision to 3A Clyde (15-4) the first time around, surged ahead in the rematch thanks to a four-run third inning, then tacked on three insurance runs in the fifth inning that proved to be handy.
“This is good going into district,” said Lions head coach Blandon Hancock. “It sounds crazy, but anybody that’s scouted us so far, we still haven’t had our 100 percent team yet. We still have guys coming back from injury, guys that miss for track or something else. We haven’t been 100 percent yet at this point of the year, and that’s really exciting but it’s also been a growing experience. We’re getting a lot of kids playing time and we can put out a lineup that anybody’s who has scouted us has never seen.”
The Lions collected 11 hits, drew eight walks and took advantage of two Clyde errors. Cain Kittrell led the charge with three hits and an RBI, Jakob Hataway chipped in two hits and a pair of RBI, Gavon Clemons and Grayson Swanzy — in his first action of the season — contributed two hits each, and Reece Rodgers and A.J. McCarty added one apiece.
“We’ve been going through kind of a slump hitting-wise, having two-hour hitting practices just trying to figure it out,” Hancock said. “All it takes is becoming an aggressive hitter instead of being a defensive hitter, and I think we did really well at that tonight. We gave them a little bit of a challenge and they stepped up to the challenge and we got what we needed.”
On the mound, Jakob Dorsett worked six innings and allowed six runs — none earned — on four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts, as the Lions defense committed five errors behind him. Hunter Day tossed the seventh inning, striking out a pair and issuing one walk.
“Jakob did a heck of a job pitching tonight and Mason Ryden has done a heck of a job, he’s probably our No. 1, then we have tons of people that can come in and throw,” Hancock said. “We play great defense, we just need to hit the ball more and we got off to a good start tonight.”
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the third, the Lions did all their damage with two outs. After Swanzy led off the inning by reaching on an error and Day reached on a dropped third strike, Hataway delivered the go-ahead two-RBI double to left field. Kittrell followed with an RBI triple to center field that was lost in the lights, which boosted the edge to 5-3. Isyah Campos, running for Kittrell, later scored on a wild pitch during Rodgers’ at-bat.
Leading by three, the Lions doubled their advantage in the sixth inning. Rowdee Gregory led off with a walk and Hataway followed with a single up the middle. With one down, Rodgers executed a suicide squeeze bunt that plated Gregory. Clemons followed with an RBI triple to left field that drove in Campos, running for Kittrell who reached on a fielder’s choice. Later, Clemons scored on a wild pitch during Swanzy’s at-bat.
Down 1-0 after half an inning, the Lions drew even in the bottom of the first. Kittrell, Rodgers and Clemons singled in succession to start the frame then, with two outs, C.J. Hanley drew a bases-loaded walk.
Brownwood grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second as, with two outs, Kitrrell singled and Rodgers and Clemons both walked to fill the sacks. Campos, running for Kittrell, then came home on a passed ball during Khyren Deal’s at-bat.
Clyde answered with a pair of unearned runs in the top of the third to regain a brief 3-2 lead, and added three more unearned runs in the top of the sixth for the final three-run margin.
The Lions open District 7-4A action at 7 p.m. Friday when they host No. 9 Stephenville (14-2, 1-0), which started league play with a 3-1 victory over Godley (7-6, 0-1) Tuesday night.
“Stephenville-Brownwood no matter what it is, it could be chess and we’re going to get their best and hopefully we can give them our best,” Hancock said. “We have a few that are not going to be there because of the Texas Relays, but we’re still going to attack them. I feel comfortable with the guys that we’re going to have.”