Baseball Cougars Drop Three, Bounce Back With Win
The Rector Cougars dropped three games last week, then rebounded with a home win over Hillcrest on Monday. The squad was scheduled to be in action Tuesday afternoon at Cross County, but final results were not available as of press time.
The boys in blue hosted Sloan-Hendrix last Thursday, April 6, suffering a 13-0 setback at the hands of the 'Hounds. Hunter McNeely got the start, and took the loss, working three and two-thirds innings, while giving up 13 hits and eight earned runs while walking two and fanning five.
McNeely was also 1 for 2 with a triple, while Cody Ails and Conley Lockhart were also 1 for 2 in the loss.
“Sloan is a great baseball team, and we just got beat by a great baseball team,” Cougar Coach Robert Dorman said afterward. “There are games where you don’t play well and take a loss, and then there are games where you just get beat. This game was the latter. Sloan hit line drives all over the place and there wasn’t a lot we could do. Tip of the cap to them.”
The following day the Cougars were on the road at Viola, where they dropped a contest to the Longhorns.
“We were competitive in this game and played well for most of it. It was 2-2 after three and 5-3 Viola going into the sixth,” Dorman said of the contest. “They stepped on the gas late but I was proud of how we played. Viola went 30-3 last year including a deep run in the state tourney. Our defense let us down a bit late and that hurt us, but it gave us a good learning experience.”
Ails took the loss on the mound for the Cougars, working four innings while giving up nine hits while walking two and striking out one. Of the seven runs the team surrendered, only three were earned.
Evan Dooley had a strong game at the plate, as he was 3 for 4 with an RBI, while McNeely was 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles.
Saturday the Rector squad was on the road at Manila to take on the Lions, and were shut-out 10-0 in non-conference play. Sam Simmons worked four and a third innings and took the loss, giving up five hits, two walks and striking out two while giving up two earned runs. Meanwhile, Case Watson's 2 for 2 day at the plate was wasted in the loss.
“Another game with an extremely tough opponent in Manila. Again, it was the same story for us against these tough teams; played with them for most of the game but kinda imploded defensively late allowing the floodgates to open,” Dorman recalled. “We were down 1-0 going into the bottom of the fifth, but had some defensive lapses that got us down. Sam threw extremely well and kept us in the ballgame. He earned more innings for us with his performance.”
The Cougar coach also felt the box score was not a good indication of his team's effort at the plate.
“Even though four total hits doesn’t show it, I thought we had tremendous at-bats against their pitching,” he explained. “We minimized strikeouts, which have been a problem for us, and fought-off a lot of two-strike pitches—so I was pleased in that regard.”
Monday afternoon the squad returned to the friendly confines of the Rector Sports Complex and beat Hillcrest 7-3 in conference. Once again McNeely got the start, and recorded the win, as he worked the full seven innings giving up just five hits and two walks while striking out nine Screamin' Eagles and allowing no earned runs.
“We played really well against a young, but talented Hillcrest team. Hunter threw tremendous,” Dorman offered. “He hit spots and really changed speeds well. He worked in a really good change-up to compliment his fastball and kept their hitters off balance all game long.”
Watson was 3 for 4 on the afternoon, with a run scored, an RBI and a double to his credit; Ails was 2 for 2 with a walk, scored two runs and stole a base while Easton Tracy had a 2 for 3 day with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBI in the win.
“We had a very tough stretch of games leading up to this one and I felt as though playing those really good and talented teams helped us grow a little,” the Cougar coach observed. “I feel as though we were exposed in a way--but that's not necessarily a bad thing. We know what we need to improve on now. It's why playing tough teams is so important.”
The Cougars are slated to host Maynard in a double-headers Thursday, April 13, with first pitch at 4 p.m. and will travel to Piggott to meet the Mohawks in the second half of the home-and-away Friday, April 14, at 4. Monday, April 17, they'll host Ridgefield Christian and next Tuesday, April 18, they're slated to host the Clarkton (Mo.) Reindeer at the Sports Complex.