As was the case in their league opener seven days prior, the Brownwood Lions erased an early deficit en route to a fourth straight victory — and 3-0 start against District 7-4A competition — with a 9-5 triumph over the Glen Rose Tigers Friday night at Morris Southall Field.
In a battle of the two undefeated teams in 7-4A action, Brownwood took over sole possession of the district lead after climbing out of an early 3-0 hole.
The Lions (10-8, 3-0) generated a dozen hits, committed one error and got a steady effort on the mound from starter Mason Ryden and reliever Gavon Clemons.
“We had one error tonight and 10 or so hits again,” said Lions head coach Blandon Hancock. “The thing about high school baseball is if you put the ball in play, if you have double-digit hit games, you give yourself a really good chance to win.
“Mason kind of struggled again this outing, but he got us through three or four innings and then Gavon came in and shut the door. The good thing about it is we played good defense behind them and we had the hitting and that propelled us.”
Trailing Glen Rose (14-7, 2-1) by three after half an inning, the Lions wasted no time in rallying to draw even at 3 by the end of the first frame.
Brownwood's bottom of the first began with Cain Kittrell reaching on the first of five Glen Rose errors, then Reece Rodgers singled. With Rodgers on first and Khyren Deal, running for Kittrell, on third, Rodgers stole second base and a wild throw to second allowed Deal to come home from third with the Lions' first run. With one out, Hunter Leonard's RBI infield single to shortstop plated Rodgers with the second run. Later, Grayson Swanzy's RBI ground out to first base allowed Leonard to score from second with the tying run.
Glen Rose regained a brief 4-3 edge in the top of the third, but the Lions took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning.
With two outs, Swanzy and A.J. McCarty reached on consecutive singles, then Kris Hobbs slapped a two-RBI single into shallow center field to plated both runners, giving Brownwood a 5-4 advantage.
“A couple of weeks ago Kris had hair like a chow dog, it was hanging out everywhere,” Hancock said. “One of our athletic policies is you have to have your hair neat. We had a get together and the team cut his hair and ever since they've cut his hair I think he has nine hits in 11 at-bats.”
The Lions stretched the lead to 6-4 in the fourth as C.J. Hanley, who walked, scored on the back end of a double steal with Jakob Hataway, who also drew a free pass.
Brownwood doubled its advantage to 8-4 in the fifth as, again with two outs, Hanley delivered a two-RBI double to right left field that knocked in McCarty, who singled, and Hobbs, who walked.
Glen Rose crept within 8-5 in the top of the sixth, but Brownwood extended its lead back to four runs in the bottom of the frame as Rodgers, who walked, scored when Clemons reached on an error in left field.
Among the 12 hits for the Lions, two each came from Rodgers, Leonard, Swanzy, McCarty and Hanley, while Hobbs and Hataway contributed one apiece.
Ryden pitched four innings and gave up four earned runs on four hits with six walks and four strikeouts. Clemons worked the final three innings and yielded one earned run on a pair of hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
The Lions wrap up the first half of their district schedule at Godley (8-8, 1-2) at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Wildcats dropped an 11-3 non-district decision to Windthorst Friday night.
“Last year they made it to the state tournament but they lost nine guys and return one,” Hancock said of Godley. “The Lummus kid (Chase) is a really good pitcher and keeps them in games. They're along the lines of what we saw from Glen Rose tonight. Glen Rose beat Godley in the bottom of the seventh Tuesday on an error when the shortstop overthrew a guy. But everybody in this district is coming to play and we just have to keep doing what we're doing — put the ball in play, play good defense behind our pitchers and keep rolling.”