Leaving men on base has been a problem for the McDowell Titans all season, and that was true again Friday in a 6-5 loss to the Hickory Red Tornadoes on the road.
McDowell (4-6 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference, 8-10 overall) stranded eight runners Friday, including the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position in the seventh.
Hickory (4-6, 10-7) broke a 4-4 tie with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, but the Titans quickly got busy in the top of the seventh.
Kell Smith (3-for-4, 2B) singled to start the frame and Nathan Watkins followed with a walk. Both runners moved up 90 feet on Ryan Murdock’s ground out, and Sydney Pike walked to load the bases with one out.
Matt Smith drove in a run with another ground out, leaving runners on second and third with two gone. But Troy Shepherd struck out looking to end the game.
The Titans took a 1-0 lead in the second. Shepherd’s ground-out RBI drove in Murdock, who had singled, to give McDowell the lead.
The Titans added to the lead in the third when Kell Smith doubled with two outs and courtesy runner Jacob Suttles scored on an error off the bat of Watkins.
The two clubs battled back-and-forth after that.
The Tornadoes put up a single run in the third and then hung a three-spot in the fourth to surge ahead 4-2.
The score stayed that way until the Titans tied it up in the sixth.
Matt Smith and Shepherd go on board with back-to-back, one-out singles. Both moved up on a wild pitch, and Smith scored on Josh Maddux’s ground-out. Brycen Seymore’s basehit plated Shepherd with the tying run. But that was it for the rally; Dylan Poplin grounded out to end the threat.
The Titans got eight hits. Murdock, Pike, Matt Smith (RBI), Shepherd (RBI) and Seymore (RBI) had a hit apiece.
Maddux took the loss in relief, allowing two runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings of work. He walked one.
McDowell is at home Tuesday against St. Stephens (4, 6:30).