COPPERAS COVE — It was not enough to spark a rally, but Dusty Brittain believes it could still cause a comeback.
In its District 8-6A opener, Copperas Cove struggled, failing to produce a hit through five innings with an error providing the only opportunity to reach first base. Meanwhile, defensively, the Bulldawgs allowed Waco Midway to score the game’s first six runs.
It was a disappointing debut until Copperas Cove displayed signs of life late in the contest, scoring three runs on a pair of hits in the final two innings.
While it was not enough to avoid a 7-3 defeat, the Bulldawgs’ head coach feels the surge could change the complexion of Friday’s game as Copperas Cove looks to even the series on the road.
“I was pleased that we came through and scored those runs late,” Brittain said. “It knocked them out of the game a little bit, and I hope that gives us a little bit of momentum.
“I think that gives the kids some confidence and fight going forward.”
In seasons past, teams would play opponents in two separate rounds, but this year, the district’s coaches decided teams would play each other in back-to-back games.
Now, the Bulldawgs must respond as they attempt to reach the playoffs for a third consecutive season.
“There is no panic,” Brittain said. “This is just the first game, and we didn’t execute well early.
“We had some mistakes that cost runs, and when you play quality teams like Midway, those things are going to come back to bit you.”
And they did.
Panthers shortstop Clayton Stewart delivered a leadoff single to open the game, and three batters later, he scored on a wild pitch.
The score held until the third inning, when Midway (10-5, 1-0) capitalized on a pair of Copperas Cove errors, scoring three runs on two hits to increase its advantage to 4-0.
Then, in the top of the fifth inning, two of the Panthers’ first three batters crossed home plate, giving Midway six unanswered runs before pushing its lead to 7-0 in the following inning.
After five hitless innings, however, the Bulldawgs finally found a rhythm. Sophomore left fielder Nick Izquierdo reached on an error to begin the bottom of the sixth, giving Copperas Cove (7-7, 0-1) its first base runner since designated hitter Justin Velesky’s routine fly ball to center field was dropped in the second inning.
Jaylen Smith, a junior, followed with a single before scoring on a walk with the bases loaded. One batter later, Tyler Ingram’s fielder’s choice scored Smith, and in the seventh, Smith’s RBI triple scored Cedric Camacho, who reached base on a walk.
Although the late outburst was nice, Brittain knows it will take a complete showing Friday to evade a similar fate.
“The key is getting the offense going earlier,” he said. “Obviously, we have to clean up some stuff, but if we scored a few runs early tonight, this could have been a totally different game.
“We’ve got to find that offense early and get runners on base.”