Mid-inning troubles got the best of the McDowell Titans in Wednesday night’s 8-6 loss to Patton in the season opener for both squads.
The contest, originally scheduled to be played at Titan Field, was relocated to Big League Camp on Lake James due to rainfall that had occurred earlier in the day, saturating McDowell’s home turf.
The availability of the modernized turf field at BLC helped avoid an early season postponement as both teams face busy schedules in the first weeks of the season.
Early on, it looked as if the Titans were going benefit from playing at their home away from home.
McDowell jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first two innings, but Patton responded with a four-run third inning off starting pitcher Matt Smith (3 IP, 4ER, 0H, 3K, 5BB) and that set the tone for the rest of the night as McDowell was playing from behind the rest of the way.
The Titans scored once in the bottom half of the third, getting back within a run (4-3), but they got no closer as the Panthers tacked on two more runs in the fourth and single runs in the fifth and sixth innings combating frames in which McDowell scored twice in the fourth and one in the fifth.
Offensively, both squads had seven hits on the night.
The big story came down to which team could capitalize on its opportunities at the plate. In the end, McDowell stranded a pair of runners in the second and left one runner in scoring position in the fourth inning, squandering any additional chances to pull out the victory.
The team as a whole left nine on base for the game.
In that bottom half of the fourth down 6-3, Dylan Poplin led off with a walk. Poplin later stole second and then advanced to third on a fly ball to center by Ryan Murdock. Poplin then scored on a passed ball during Sydney Pike’s at bat.
Later, after Pike walked, catcher Kell Smith delivered a basehit through the middle, making him the tying run at first while Pike advanced to second. Pike, with the help of a passed ball and wild pitch, scored during Brycen Seymore’s at bat, getting McDowell back within a run.
However Seymore couldn’t deliver a hit off Patton’s Peyton Smith as he struck out looking, stranding Smith at third.
The Panthers’ two late insurance runs came off McDowell relief pitcher Nate Watkins, who allowed a run on three hits in 2 2/3 innings relief.
Smith took the victory on the mound for the Panthers, tossing the third, fourth and fifth innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits, striking out three and walking a pair. Ty Causby went 2-for-4 at the plate, driving in and scoring once each.
Watkins went 2-for-3 for McDowell in the leadoff spot in the batting order with one walk. He drove in a pair of runs and scored twice.
Murdock, Smith, Dawson Beck, D.J. Creson and Josh Maddux had a hit apiece for the Titans.
McDowell continued its busy start to the 2018 season on Thursday, hosting Owen in a non-conference battle, but results were not available at press time. The Titans are on the road Friday at Burns.