McDowell’s Brycen Seymore threw a no-hitter and was plagued by a pitcher’s worst enemy. Freedom’s Lyle Holland gave up some hits, but got plenty of help from a pitcher’s best friend.
The end result was 1-0 Freedom win over the Titans in the first round of the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference tournament Tuesday in Morganton.
McDowell (15-9), the tournament’s fifth seed, committed four errors, including one in the bottom of the fifth that sent the eventual winning run to third base for the fourth-seeded Patriots (16-9).
Meanwhile, Holland’s teammates produced three double plays, ending the Titans’ first, third and fourth with twin-killings.
“It was a good baseball game with two good teams going at it,” said Titans head coach Alex Smith. “In the end, they made more plays than we did, and they executed everything we threw at them. We gave up two walks in the fifth and made two throwing errors, and that was the game. We had runners in scoring position several times, but we just didn’t get the hit to drive to them in, and it came down to pitching and defense.”
It was shame either pitcher had to accept a loss.
Seymore held the Pats hitless in six innings, allowing an unearned run. He walked seven and hit one while striking out four batters. It was the fourth consecutive complete game by the senior right-hander, whose ERA is .81 over his last 26 innings of work.
Holland shut out the Titans on six hits, striking out four, walking three and hitting a batter in seven innings.
“Brycen gave us all he had, which is what he has done all year,” said Smith. “He wanted to carry us the whole way.”
He nearly did, but some fifth-inning miscues intervened.
Freedom’s Damien Dula drew a one-out walk, and T.J. Twitty dropped a bunt toward third base. Seymore made a nice, backhand grab falling off the mound to the third-base side, but his throw to first sailed high, leaving runners at the corners.
Holland then slapped a grounder toward second. Josh Maddux (1-4) fielded it and flipped to shortstop Chapel Matson, who recorded the out at second and fired to first. The throw pulled Justin Davis off the bag at first, allowing Holland to beat the throw and Dula to score.
The Titans argued that Twitty, who didn’t slide on the play, interfered with Matson’s throw, but to no avail.
McDowell had one more chance to draw even when Justin Dula (1-2) singled to lead off the sixth and went to second on Ethan Davis’s (1-1, double, 2SAC) sacrifice bunt. But Holland struck out Justin Davis and induced a grounder from Three Young to end the threat. McDowell went down in order in the seventh.
The Titans put runners on first and second in the top of the first, but Freedom turned a 6-4-3 double play off Gage Gentry’s bat to end the inning.
In the second, Matson grounded out with runners at first and second to end the inning.
Ethan Hamm (2-3, SAC) had a one-out single in the third, but Seymore (1-2, BB) grounded into another double play.
In the fourth, Justin Dula was hit by a pitch and Ethan Davis followed with a double to center. Justin Davis then walked to load the bases, but Young grounded into a third, inning-ending double play.
The Titans also had two on in the fifth, but couldn’t score.
McDowell ended up stranding eight runners.
The Titans may have a chance to make up a game at R-S Central that was rained out earlier in the season Friday, but that wasn’t confirmed by press time. If that game doesn’t happen, McDowell’s next one would be in the first round of the State 4A Playoffs if the Titans make the field.