COPPERAS COVE — The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs held off Waco Midway through six innings before losing 4-2 against the Panthers at home Friday night.
It was the second straight loss for the Bulldawgs (14-2-2), who did not lose any their first 16 games.
The Bulldawgs were out to redeem themselves after a 7-0 loss at Midway on Tuesday, but fell to 0-2 in District 8-6A play.
Center fielder Michael Goudeau started things off for the Dawgs in the bottom of the first by hitting a double into left-center field just short of the wall.
Josh Ropple laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Goudeau but Panthers pitcher Braden Bowles had trouble getting hold of the ball and both runners were safe.
With runners on the corners and nobody out, Cameron Johnson came up to hit. Ropple was running on the first pitch to Johnson, which allowed his ground ball to score Goudeau and give the Dawgs an early 1-0 lead.
Tyler Ingram then walked, loading the bases for Colby Jost.
Jost belted a shot that bounced off the mound and straight into second baseman Chance Mushaweck’s glove for the double play.
Ropple scored, though, and Cove led 2-0 after two innings.
Midway answered in the third.
Panthers left fielder Joseph Redfield was hit by a pitch and scored on a double to left-center by catcher Benn Nelson.
Logan Theilapape then came on to pinch-run for Nelson.
Center fielder Riley Lambert knocked one into the hole in left-center field for an RBI double that tied the game 2-2.
“Tonight we had that first inning that was big, but then we weren’t able to capitalize on some situations later on,” Cove coach Dusty Brittain said.
The game remained tied through six innings as both teams got on base but couldn’t bring in runs.
In the Midway seventh, the Panthers loaded the bases with two outs.
Shortstop Clayton Stewart put the Panthers on top with a two-run double.
Johnson recovered the ball from an overthrow at home plate so starter Jaylen Smith could get the final out at home plate to end the inning.
“When it comes down to the big moment, he wants the ball in his hand,” Brittain said of Smith, “and so I’m sure this one eats at him a little bit.
“But hats off to the kid, he pitched a great game tonight.”
Midway coach Eddie Cornblum agreed.
“Jaylen Smith is really good,” Midway coach Eddie Cornblum, “really good.
“That is a tough guy to compete against.”
Down by two, Cove fought back as Smith got a base hit and stole second.
After working relief pitcher Jackson Berry to a full count, Ropple was headed to first on what he thought was a low ball for a walk, but the umpire called strike three and the game ended.
“Tonight we had that first inning that was big but then we weren’t able to capitalize on some situations later on,” Brittain said, “They had one clutch hit and we didn’t. I think that proved to be the difference.”
“It’s always going to be like this. They’re No. 15 in the state,” Cornblum said of starting district against Cove.
“When you’re at the top, everybody wants to play you and everybody wants to beat you, so that puts a target on your back, but I just know that these guys will never quit.”
Starting district play down 0-2 isn’t where any team wants to be. Brittain and his team are focused on preparing for their next opponent, the Shoemaker Grey Wolves.
“I honestly gave the kids the option of what they wanted to do tomorrow practice-wise and they all want to come in and get back to work,” Brittain said. “It’s a testament to those kids and where they want to be."
DISTRICT 8-6A SCORES
- Belton 6, Harker Heights 3
- Ellison 10, Shoemaker 6
- Killeen 6, San Angelo Central 5
- Waco Midway 4, Copperas Cove 2