COPPERAS COVE — Teams keep giving the Shoemaker Grey Wolves opportunities. And determined to get into the playoffs for the first time in school history, the Grey Wolves are hungry enough to take advantage.
After scoring the winning run on an error in the eighth inning against Temple on Thursday, the Grey Wolves scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning Friday and held on to beat Copperas Cove 9-7.
Almost in spite of themselves.
Shoemaker (13-9, 5-4 8-5A) led 3-0 after the third inning and 5-3 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, but had to rally with its final three outs to win its third straight and fourth in the last five games. The Grey Wolves beat Temple 2-1 on Thursday on an eighth-inning error by the Wildcats.
“We started a conversation last year and it’s kinda carried over into this year about not having a typical Shoemaker inning where we have multiple errors and we give up a big inning,” Shoemaker coach Harry Zambrana said. “We gave up some big innings (Friday), but it never snowballed. The kids fought hard and if we made a mistake, the next guy stepped up and made a play. That was huge for us.”
Ramiro Gonzalez led off the Grey Wolves’ seventh inning by reaching on an error, one of eight committed by the Bulldawgs. Elijah Hilliard followed with a single. Gonzalez and Broderick Reed, pinch-running for Hilliard, scored the tying and go-ahead run when the Copperas Cove third baseman didn’t catch a throw from Bulldawgs catcher Michael Sizemore on Wade Corn’s bunt. Raven Sauceda followed for Shoemaker with a triple and scored on a pop fly from Roberto Delgado.
“The team tonight, they never gave up and I was proud of them,” said Sauceda, who pitched the final three innings for the win. “I didn’t give up either. I made a couple of mistakes ... but I kept my head up because my team was keeping me up. ... I had pride in my team that we were going to win this game.”
Brandon Smith led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a single for Cove (5-18, 2-7) and scored on a two-out RBI single by Kyle Winstead, but Sauceda struck out Sizemore in four pitches to end the game.
Derris Prater scored the go-ahead run for Copperas Cove on an error in left field in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Bulldawgs their first lead, 6-5. Joel Hagen walked to give the Bulldawgs two base-runners on with no outs, but Shoemaker shortstop John Guiets sat the Bulldawgs down with his triple play to end the threat.
With one runner at second and one at first, Tim Bechtold hit a line drive right to Guiets for the first out. Guiets then tagged second base to get Jayson Cole out and then threw to first to get Hogan out there.
“That took momentum away,” Copperas Cove coach CJ Wilk said. “Jayson came in and got out of a tight jam (defensively), a kid doesn’t do his job: triple play. That changed the ballgame.”
Jamie Funk, who scored the game-winning run in Shoemaker’s win over Temple, walked to lead off the game and scored on Sauceda’s RBI double two batters later. Albert Castro hit a two-run double with the bases loaded to give the Grey Wolves a 3-0 lead in the third inning.
Cove tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Sizemore’s RBI double plated Riley Childers, who reached on a 1-out walk. Kyle Winstead followed with a single and later scored from third on a wild pitch to pull the Bulldawgs within a run. Derris Prater’ run-scoring single plated Sizemore and tied the game at 3-3.
The Grey Wolves scored two runs on three errors in the fifth inning. Julian Doubleday’s two-run double in the bottom of the fifth tied the game at 5-5.
“We’d been in this situation before. We’ve been down and our guys know there’s nothing for us to get down about when we’re down, we just keep battling and come back like always,” Cove’s Brandon Smith said.
“We had a couple ground ball here and there that we should’ve caught, a couple bunts that we should’ve fielded, a couple throws that should’ve been better. That’s just something we’ll have to work on come practice.”