COPPERAS COVE — Seeking to make its first 5A playoff appearance in 36 years, the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs understand what’s going to get them there — timely hitting and maybe a little luck.

They got a little bit of both Thursday as the Bulldawgs withstood a third-inning rally for an 11-8 victory over visiting Shoemaker.

“Its all on the kids. We’ve continued to push them and they’ve bought in, and they’ve bought in to each other,” Copperas Cove coach C.J. Wilk said.

Despite a little errant pitching and some costly defensive mistakes resulting in a five-run third inning for the scrappy Grey Wolves, Cove maintained its composure and answered right back, scraping together its third straight three-run inning on a couple of seeing-eye hits.

Tied at 8-8 after all nine Shoemaker batters came to the plate in the top of the third, momentum appeared in the Grey Wolves’ corner after the Bulldawgs (8-12, 4-2 12-5A) got two quick outs in the bottom half of the frame.

But leadoff hitter Warren Neely lined a roller right between Shoemaker third baseman Roberto Ramos and shortstop John Gueits and hustled to second for a two-out double. A passed ball put runners at first and third following a free pass to Austin Greene before Cove slugger Ty Johnson (2-for-4, 3 RBIs) ripped a hit-and-run RBI single through second and third to score Neely.

Justin Greene then followed with a check-swing single that died mere feet from home plate, but far enough for his cousin Austin, who was running on the play, to slide safely under the tag of Shoemaker catcher Xavier Wilson.

“Little dinkers,” Grey Wolves coach Harry Zambrana said. “That was the frustrating thing, they put a little pressure on us and didn’t really get the ball out of the infield, just balls back to the pitcher, and we just made mistakes on it.”

Johnson scored on a passed ball to make it 9-6 Cove after three innings.

Shoemaker (2-13-1, 0-6) managed to keep the pressure on thanks to several errors by the Bulldawgs defense, including a overthrow by Neely on a throw to second that was in turn thrown into the Shoemaker dugout that allowed Tyler Hammett and Latharian Merritt to score on the single play.

But the Grey Wolves couldn’t mount any more offense as Johnson got himself out of trouble with a tag of Raven Sauceda at home after the Shoemaker speedster attempted to steal home on a passed ball.

The Bulldawgs got two more in the bottom half of the inning when another check-single, this one from Duncan Purnell, was deposited into right field on an errant throw from Gueits to score Joel Hogan (2-for-2, 2 RBIs).


“That’s the most frustrating thing, they didn’t hit the ball real well against us, when they put it in play, we booted it,” Zambrana said.

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