Diamond Cougars See Action
The Rector Cougars extended their season record to 6-5 in the past week, posting wins over Hillcrest and Marmaduke before dropping a home non-conference game to Piggott on Friday.
Last Wednesday, March 29, the squad traveled to Strawberry and beat Hillcrest 11-6. Case Watson got the start, working the first two innings while giving up one hit, two unearned runs while striking out three and walking four of the Screamin' Eagles. Hunter McNeely came on in relief, pitching the final five innings and getting the win. McNeely fanned seven, walked four, and gave up three hits and four runs, three earned, en route to the victory.
Easton Tracy was 2 for 5 at the plate; while Watson went 3 for 4; McNeely was 1 for 3 with a homerun, two RBI and a walk; Sam Simmons was 1 for 5 with a double and four RBI; Kirk Beshears was 3 for 3 with an RBI and two walks and Cody Ails was 1 for 3 with a double, a pair of walks and two RBI in the win.
"I thought our offense looked much improved today. We had been struggling a bit offensively," Cougar Coach Robert Dorman said of the contest. "We put in a lot of work in the cages on Monday and Tuesday and that hard work showed with 14 total hits. Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit."
The Cougar head man also weighed-in on the pitching performance.
"We struggled with command on the mound, especially late," he explained. "We had an 11-3 lead going into the seventh and let them back in the game a bit--but, I was very pleased with the overall performance."
The following day the boys in blue made the short trip to Marmaduke, sweeping the 'Hounds in a double header.
Game one went to the Cougars 4-3 in six innings, as Beshears and Ails both saw work on the mound. Beshears got the start and worked the first three innings, giving up four hits and three earned runs while fanning eight and walking two Greyhounds. Ails came on for the final three innings and got the win, surrendering just one hit while striking out three and walking two.
Evan Dooley ended the game with a walk-off single in the bottom of the sixth, as he was 2 for 2 with a pair of walks and two RBI. Watson was 1 for 2 with a pair of RBIs, McNeely was 1 for 2 with a double and Hunter Householder was 1 for 2 with a walk, as he scored two runs and stole two bases on the game.
"A tremendous game. Marmaduke played their butts off and we were fortunate to escape that game with a win. I can not say enough about the effort Coach Gardener and his guys put forth," Dorman said. "They hit well, played lights out defense, and held us in check offensively. For us, Cody Ails kept us in the game. Coming in to relieve in a tight situation and got out of a jam turned the game around for us."
Dorman was also pleased with his team's performance at the plate, although the 'Hounds did test their bats.
"We hit the ball extremely hard all game long but they just would not drop-a testament to the defense Marmaduke played," he offered. "Sam Simmons crushed the ball every time up and had nothing to show for it. That's baseball. Evan Dooley had a big clutch hit for us to win the game. He came through in a big time spot."
The second game of the doubleheader also went to the Cougars, as the beat the 'Hounds 6-2 in four innings due to darkness.
Ailes got the start, and the win, working two shut-out innings while giving up just one hit and fanning four. Nic Mesa came on to work the final two innings, giving up two hits and two runs, one earned, while striking out four and walking just one Greyhound batter.
Dooley was 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored; Mesa was 1 for 2 with a double; Ailes went 1 for 1 with a double and scored two runs and Watson was 1 for 2 with a run scored, one walk and three stolen bases.
"Another close game. I was extremely happy with how we responded to adversity in both of these games," Dorman observed. "I moved Evan Dooley to the leadoff spot because of his hot bat and it paid off as he improved his average to .500 for the year. Cody Ails pitched awesome all day and picked up his second win of the day. It's great to play two very hard fought games and come away with two wins."
Friday afternoon the Cougars hosted the Piggott Mohawks at the sports complex, and dropped an 11-6 decision.
Watson got the start, and took the loss, as he worked six and two-thirds innings, giving up six hits and five runs, three earned, while fanning eight Mohawks and not surrendering a base on balls.
Watson also went 2 for 4 with a double, three runs scored and an RBI; McNeely was 2 for 4 with a run scored and two RBI; Simmons was 2 for 4 with a double, two RBI and scored two runs and Ails was 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored in the loss.
Even with the disappointing result, I thought we played one of the better games we played all year. We just couldn't finish it," Coach Dorman observed afterward. "Hats off to Piggott and Coach Rabjohn. They didn't give up down 5-2 in the seventh."
"Case threw a heck of a game. He kept the ball down and didn't walk anybody. He ran out of gas a bit in the seventh but what a gutsy performance by him," he added of his pitcher.
As the season progresses the RHS coach likes the progress his team has made, especially at the plate.
"Our bats looked good all game. Struck out a bit much for my liking but even so I thought we had very good at bat's against their pitching. Sam Simmons nearly hit two more balls out, one to each gap," he offered. "We've had a lot more power as a team than I expected. I'm extremely excited about the outlook for the rest of the season as our offense and pitching continues to improve."
This week the Cougars have two key conference games, and a non-conference contest set for Saturday, with great implications. "These games bring our record to 6-5 overall and 4-1 in conference," Dorman added. "We've got a big game against Sloan-Hendrix Thursday at home that could decide the conference championship. They beat us 3-2 at their place earlier in the year with a walk-off single."
First pitch Thursday is set for 4 p.m. at the sports complex in Rector and the Cougars will host Marked Tree on Friday with a 5 p.m. start time. The squad is slated to visit Manila on Saturday, with that contest set to begin at 4.