This one didn’t just get away – it broke the line, spit the hook and fell through a hole in the landing net.
The McDowell Titans saw an 8-1, sixth-inning lead go by the wayside in a 9-8, extra-inning loss to the Patton Panthers Wednesday night on the road in non-conference action.
Patton rallied over the final three innings, scoring twice in the sixth, five times in the seventh and once more in the bottom of the eighth on Matt Anders’ walk-off double.
Along the way, the Titans (4-2 overall, 2-0 Mountain Athletic 4A/3A Conference) squandered a solid outing from starter Zach Franklin, who allowed two runs, only one of them earned, on five hits in six innings of work. Franklin struck out nine batters and walked none. He threw 77 pitches, 64 of them for strikes.
McDowell also out-hit Patton 11-10 and committed two errors to the Panthers’ three.
Sydney Pike had a big night at the plate for the Titans, going 3-for-5 with a double and driving in three runs. Koby Smith (2-for-4, 2RBIs) and Kell Smith (2-for-4, RBI) also had multi-hit games.
Nathan Watkins (RBI, 2R, SAC), Troy Sheperd (SAC), Ryan Murdock (SAC) and Dylan Poplin (BB, SAC) collected one hit apiece.
Pike’s two-run double to right put McDowell ahead 2-1 in the top of the third.
The Titans added three more in the fourth, getting RBI basehits from Koby Smith and Kell Smith.
Koby Smith drove in another run in the top of the fifth for a 6-1 advantage. Watkins and Pike had run-scoring singles in the sixth, and McDowell owned a seemingly safe 8-1 lead.
But Patton answered with a pair of runs in the sixth and rallied for five in the seventh off relievers Tre Barrier and Ben Ballew (LP).
Poplin singled to start the eighth, and Watkins bunted him to second. But Tyler Walker and Pike both popped out to end threat.
Patton’s Tripp Causby doubled with one away in the bottom of the eighth, and, two walks later, Anders (3-for-5, 3RBIs, 2 2B) smacked the game-winner to center.
McDowell hosts the WNC Trailblazers tonight (Friday, 4 p.m. JV start, 6:30 varsity). The Titans return to MAC play next week, with a crucial pair of games against T.C. Roberson on the road Tuesday (4:30, 7) and at home Friday.