WEST — Irving MacArthur capitalized on Copperas Cove miscues Friday and rallied for a 3-1 victory to even their best-of-three first-round playoff series at 1-1.
Game 3 is set for 1 p.m. today at West High School.
“Sometimes you just have those nights,” Cove head coach Dusty Brittain said. “It’s a poor time to have one of those kinds of nights.
“But is has to be short memory because we don’t have time to sit around and sulk about it because we have to come out here tomorrow and play like our lives are on the line.”
The game started nearly an hour and a half after its scheduled 7 p.m. start after storms delayed earlier games at West High School's popular artificial turf venue.
Cove (25-5-2) got ahead early as Michael Goudeau led off for the Bulldawgs with a single. Cardinals starting pitcher Ricky Boren tried picking off Goudeau at first. On the third attempt, the ball bounced away from first baseman Matthew Mayhem, allowing Goudeau to advance to second.
A fly ball from Josh Ropple got Goudeau to third as Tyler Ingram walked up to the plate.
Ingram wasted no time, swinging on the first pitch and grounding it into left field past MacArthur third baseman Felipe Garcia for an RBI single to give Cove a 1-0 lead.
Boren and the MacArthur defense quickly retired Cove in the third inning. Johnson responded in the bottom half by striking out the side.
An error in the bottom of the fourth put the Cardinals (20-12-1) in scoring position but Johnson fanned Garcia chasing a pitch to get the final out.
The fifth inning didn’t end so easily for the Bulldawgs as errors allowed MacArthur to take a 2-1 lead.
“It’s just poor execution, and we know we’re better than that,” Brittain said.
After Cove left the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, the Cardinals picked up right where they left off. Garcia started the inning with a deep shot into left-center field all the way to the wall for a double. Daniel Hernandez bunted but Johnson overthrew Ingram at first base. As Ingram gave chase, Garcia scored for a 3-1 MacArthur lead.
Cove then moved Johnson to third base and Ropple came on in relief. Johnson pitched 6 1/3 innings, recorded seven strikeouts and walked only one.
The Bulldawgs were hoping for a repeat of Thursday night’s seventh-inning magic as they got two runners on base.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have the big hit tonight,” Brittain said, “but the kids are not down. They’re frustrated with our performance, but I don’t think they had a quit in them, so we just have to do what we can to come get tomorrow.”
Brittain wants his team to focus on one thing.
“Be confident,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing we’re going to emphasize tomorrow.
“Play like you’ve been playing the past 31 games and the rest will take care of itself.”