Bulletin Staff Report
SAN ANGELO — Both the Early Longhorns and the Coahoma Bulldogs got off to a late start in Game 2 of their Region I-2A bi-district playoff series Saturday night, but it was the Bulldogs who finished the Longhorns’ season early with a 4-2 victory.
Coahoma (19-8) broke a 2-all tie in the sixth inning as the Bulldogs scored one run on a squeeze bunt, while an Early (14-14) throwing error allowed a second run to score on the play.
The Longhorns committed nine errors in their 12-7 Game 1 loss Thursday, but the defense was much more consistent on Saturday.
“We had a few mistakes, but the way the guys played tonight was really special,” said Early head coach Randy Jones. “They played good, old-fashioned, hard baseball. They were very aggressive and you have to respect the type of effort they showed.”
Coahoma jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Cale Bearden, Early’s starting pitcher in Game 1 Thursday, again got the nod from Jones. Bearden lasted just one inning and Cody Thompson finished the game in relief. Early’s two pitchers surrendered only five hits in the Bulldogs’ six trips to the plate.
The Longhorns answered Coahoma’s two-spot in the bottom of the first with a single run in the top of the second. Jonathan Conley’s RBI single plated Cody Blythe as Early moved to within a run, 2-1.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Longhorns pulled even as Stephen Hopkins’ RBI single — one of six Early hits in the game — brought home John Atchley.
The second game of the series began nearly three hours after it was originally scheduled as Kermit and Comfort played the final two games of their series at Foster Field, home of the San Angelo Colts. Early and Coahoma were slated to get under way at 4 p.m. Saturday, but the final game of the Kermit-Comfort series was only in the bottom of the first inning at that time.
Early, which returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence, finished the season with eight losses in its last 11 games. However, with a young nucleus and several starters returning next season, greater expectations are in store for the Longhorns in 2008.
“I hate (that we lost) for the seniors, but we had a young team this season that played aggressive in spots and at other times had some growing pains,” Jones said. “Some of these young guys were under a lot of pressure, especially when we were trying to make the playoffs, and they played well. This was a valuable learning experience and if we do learn from it, we should be solid in the future.”