A walk-off, four-pitch walk derailed the Titan Train.
The Freedom Patriots edged the streaking Titans 5-4 in eight innings Wednesday on Michael Logan’s bases-loaded walk off McDowell reliever Chapel Matson.
The Titans (12-8 overall, 6-8 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference) came into the game winners of five straight and 10 of their previous 13, and could have tied the Pats (12-8, 8-6) for fourth place in the final conference standings with a win.
McDowell still has a shot at making the State 4A Playoffs. The Titans have three non-conference games next week to wrap up the regular season.
Freedom jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning against McDowell starter Juan Campos, and the Titans spent the rest of the night playing catch-up, eventually tying the score at 4-4 with a single run in the top of the seventh.
Matson held the Patriots down in the bottom of the seventh, but they got to the sophomore hurler in the home half of the eighth.
Wesley Smith smacked a one-out single before giving way to pinch-runner Fletcher Abee. Damien Dula was hit by a pitch, and Lyle Holland later drew a two-out walk to load the bases. Logan’s free pass plated Abee with the winning run.
Matson took the loss, allowing a run on two hits in 1 2/3 innings. He walked three, fanned two and hit one. Campos worked six innings, giving up five runs, three of them earned, on five hits. He struck out eight and walked four.
Control problems plagued the Titans’ pitchers, especially early.
Campos walked T.J. Twitty in the first inning. Holland followed with a basehit to center and Logan drew a walk to load the bags.
Campos struck out Dylan Shelton, but then walked Brandon Pieto to make it 1-0. Disaster struck during Hunter Keller’s at bat. A passed ball allowed both Holland and Logan to score for a 3-0 lead. Pieto later scored on a steal of home to make it 4-0.
But Campos settled down after that, and gave the Titans a chance to chip away at the lead.
Ethan Hamm (1-5) reached on a one-out error in the top of the third. Brycen Seymore (0-3, BB, HBP, 2R) was hit a Holland pitch. With two down, Justin Dula (BB, 2HBP) was also plunked to load the bases.
Hamm and Seymore both scored on a two-out, two-RBI double by Justin Davis (1-3, double, 2RBIs, HBP), and McDowell was within 4-3.
The score stayed that way until the top of the seventh. Seymore walked and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gage Gentry. Dula walked and Justin Davis was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Cyrus Black (RBI, Sac) drove in the tying run with a sacrifice bunt back to the pitcher. Three Young (1-2, 2BB) walked and the bases were full again, but Pieto struck out Matson (1-3, HBP) to end the threat.
Pieto got the win in relief, giving up a run on one hit in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out five, walked three and hit two. Holland allowed three runs – none of them earned – on four hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out two, walked one and hit three batters.
The two teams combined for 17 freebies on 11 walks and six hit batsmen.
Josh Maddux (1-5) had the other hit for McDowell.
Tristan Robinson was 2-for-4 for the Pats, who collected seven hits.
The Titans are idle until next Tuesday, when they host South Brunswick. McDowell travels to Owen next Wednesday and finished out the regular season at home Thursday against the Asheville Trailblazers.
The NWC tournament is set for the following week. The fifth-seeded Titans will get another crack at the fourth-seeded Patriots in Morganton in the opening round. South Caldwell (16-3, 12-2) won the conference championship and secured the only guaranteed playoff berth available to the split conference’s two 4A clubs, the Spartans and Titans.
McDowell 7, Freedom 3 (jayvees) – The Titans scored three times in the first inning and never looked back en route to the victory.
McDowell (10-7-2, 6-6-2) had seven hits in the game.
Dusty Revis (1-1, 3BB, 5SB), Logan Duncan (1-4, RBI), Ben Barnes (1-3, 2RBIs), Peyton Rose (1-2, double, SB), Mason Lamb (1-3, RBI), Caleb Jimison (1-3, double) and Cole Weaver (1-3, RBI, SB) had one hit apiece. Ty Smith drove in a run and Ethan Hensley swiped two bases.
Barnes went the distance for the win, allowing two runs, one of them earned, on four hits. He struck out six and walked three.