Lions pummel Graham, 14-2, to improve to 2-1 in district baseball standings

Derrick Stuckly Brownwood Bulletin derrick.stuckly@brownwoodbulletin.com

GRAHAM — The Brownwood Lions matched their most lopsided victory of the season, recording eight runs in their final trip to the plate to rout the Graham Steers, 14-2, in District 6-4A baseball action Thursday night.

Thursday’s 12-run victory equaled the Lions’ biggest win this season, which was a 15-3 triumph over Monahans at the Snyder tournament on March 13.

“They really didn’t like where we were picked at the beginning of the year,” Lions head coach Herb Rios said regarding the pre-district predictions of txhighschoolbaseball.com. “We were picked dead last in district and our kids took that as a challenge. They were coming over here to make a statement and I believe they did.”

Brownwood (10-8, 2-1), which tallied its 10th win in the last 12 outings, finished with 14 base hits, including a home run by Hayden Day, while Mario Saldana drove in a team-high three RBIs. Kory Owen worked the first six innings and stranded 10 base runners, including eight over the first three frames, to collect the victory.

Among the Lions’ 14 hits, five went for extra bases as Carson Cloy tripled and doubled. Also, Carson McAnally tripled and Owen doubled to go along with Day’s round-tripper.

Cloy, Day, Tristan Chesser, Rawlings Rios and Trent Carlton finished with two hits apiece, while McAnally, Owen, Saldana and Cole Fowler added one apiece.

Day, McAnally and Fowler contributed two RBIs apiece while Cloy, Chesser, Owen and Pablo Salazar chipped in one each.

“I don’t feel like we have a weak spot in the order right now,” Rios said. “They’re all having good at-bats and taking a lot of pitches. They’re being selective at the plate, they’re not swinging at a lot of bad pitches and they’re definitely jumping on fast balls. We’re not getting behind in the count. Early in the year we got behind in the count quite a bit and ended up chasing pitches out of the zone.”

Dylan Agan pitched an inning of relief for the Lions, yielding one unearned run on two hits with one strikeout and a walk.

The Lions struck for three runs in the top of the second inning after Owen — who struck out six and walked five overall — escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the first.

“I’m very excited about what Kory’s done on the mound for us every time he’s stepped up there,” Rios said. “We have a lot confidence in him.”

Chesser reached on a one-out error followed by a single from Carlton. Owen then doubled to deep-center field to plate Chesser with the first run. Fowler and Saldana laid down back-to-back squeeze bunts, with Fowler reaching, to plate Carlton and courtesy-runner Blayne Hughes.

“Two days ago we had an intrasquad scrimmage and it was all bunting,” Rios said. “That’s something we’ve struggled with this year. They did a great job in practice with it and they built up some confidence. It worked for us tonight.”

Graham scratched across its first run on an RBI single by Pete Marrufo in the bottom of the second, but Owen left two more Steers on base when the frame ended

Brownwood tacked on two more runs in the third inning as Rios reached on a one-out single to right field, then Day belted a line drive two-run shot over the left field fence.

Meanwhile, Owen escaped more danger in the bottom of the third, recording a pair of strikeouts to end the inning after the Steers loaded the bases with one out.

The Lions extended their lead to 6-1 in the fourth as Owen led off with a walk then Hughes, running for Owen, scored on a two-out opposite field RBI triple by Cloy.

Brownwood maintained its 6-1 lead heading to the seventh inning, where the Lions tacked on eight runs. Chesser picked up an RBI on a single to left-center field, Fowler earned an RBI on a bases-loaded walk, Saldana tallied a two-RBI single and McAnally recorded a two-RBI triple. Carlton also doubled in the inning, while Day added a single.

The Lions are off until Friday, April 10 they head to Stephenville for a 7:30 p.m. tilt.