The McDowell Titans and their bats are hotter than a dancing bobcat.
Add a strong performance from Titans ace pitcher Juan Campos and the end result is hard to beat.
The Titans continue to improve on the diamond as they routed the Watauga Pioneers 20-3 in a contest ended after four-and-a-half innings due to the 10-run rule.
Thursday’s blowout sustains what has been steady improvement for McDowell (9-7 overall, 3-7 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference) over the past several weeks. The titans have now won four of their past five games and seven of 10.
The offense has played a big part in the success. McDowell, for the second consecutive game and in four of the last five contests, has produced double-digit run totals. They collected 15 hits off Watauga pitching on Thursday. Four of those hits were for extra bases.
The success begins at the top with leadoff hitter Josh Maddux. The senior went 4-for-4 on Thursday, driving in a pair and scoring four times. Maddux is now hitting .322 for the season with an on-base percentage of nearly .400.
“Our offense is doing some good things right now and Josh is playing a big part in that at the top of the order,” said McDowell head coach Alex Smith. “I thought he set the tone of this game with his bat and his speed. He’s playing really fast for us on the bases, probably the fastest I’ve seen from him.”
Maddux put McDowell in front 1-0 in the first inning with his bat and speed. He singled to center to lead off the frame. Maddux advanced to second on a ground ball by Ethan Hamm. Maddux then took third on a wild pitch. Then with two outs, Maddux aggressively scored on another wild pitch to give McDowell the lead.
The Titans did not let up after that first inning run. They scored three more times in the second and then a nine-run third blew the game open.
For good measure McDowell put up seven more in the fourth ending their impressive offensive display.
All three runs in the second came with two outs. With a runner at first, ninth-place hitter Chapel Matson reached on an error, putting a pair of runners in scoring position.
Maddux then followed and on the first pitch, singled over the first baseman’s head and, increasing the McDowell lead to 3-0.
Brycen Seymore and Three Young (2-4, 3RBIs) added two hits each for the Titans. Seymore just missed hitting a grand-slam home run in the third. His two-run double to left landed just a couple feet shy of the fence.
Gage Gentry (3BBs, 2RBIs), Justin Dula (RBI), Justin Davis, Ethan Davis and Cyrus Black had a hit apiece.
While the offense was doing its damage at the plate, Campos picked up his third win of the season, tossing a one-hitter over five innings and striking out 13 batters. The lone hit came in the third; a two-out infield single by Anderson Castle. Campos did walk six batters in the game with three of them scoring (two earned runs). That turned out to be the only blemish in what was an otherwise stellar performance.
Campos’ earned run average on the season is 2.35 and he leads the team in strikeouts with 55 in 32 2/3 innings.
“Juan was doing a good job throwing strikes and overall had a good performance with the exception of one inning where he lost some of the command,” added Smith.
That one frame was in the Watauga third. Campos walked the bases loaded but he recovered to strike out cleanup hitter Travis Hamrick. He then allowed the hit to Castle which scored a run, and the two others in the frame scored on wild pitches.
McDowell will be on the road Tuesday at Alexander Central.
McDowell 11, Watauga 11 (jayvees) – The Titans and Watauga tied after six innings of play, with the Pioneers scoring three times in the top of the sixth to tie the game.
McDowell (7-6-2, 3-5-2) collected seven hits. Luke Roberts (double, RBI) went 2-for-3 to lead the way. Dusty Revis (1-4, 2RBIs, SB), Logan Duncan (1-4, RBI), Michael Lewis (1-3, double, 2RBIs), Caleb Jimison (1-4) and Cole Weaver (1-3, 3R, 2SB) had one hit apiece.
Ethan Hensley drove in a run and Peyton Rose (2BBs) stole two bases.