During their recent hot streak, the McDowell Titans have won ballgames in lots of different ways. Wednesday, they added a good, old-fashioned pitcher’s duel to the list.
The Titans got an absolute gem of a one-hitter from senior Brycen Seymore, who out-dueled the Cougars’ Bryson Hammer in a 2-0 McDowell win.
It was the third victory in a row for the Titans (10-7 overall, 4-7 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference) and their eighth win in the last 11 outings. Alexander Central fell to 10-8 overall and 8-3 in league play.
“I’m proud of the guys,” said McDowell head coach Alex Smith. “I feel like we’ve won the games we’re supposed to win, but I didn’t feel like we had won a game we weren’t supposed to win until last night.
“I feel like we’re playing good baseball. We’re definitely limiting our mistakes.”
That was especially true for Seymore, who was remarkably efficient in his battle against Hammer, a left-hander who has signed with Clemson. Seymore threw just 102 pitches, giving up only a sixth-inning single to Easton Rhoney. Seymore struck out six and stayed out of trouble despite walking three batters. He went to a three-ball count just six times.
“He was really good,” said Smith. “He’s been good a lot of nights, but the difference was, he pitched ahead. He stayed out of three-ball counts and threw three pitches for strikes. They only hit a couple of balls hard, and we made plays on those.”
Seymore helped out his own cause with an RBI double in the fifth, when the Titans scored the only two runs they needed.
Justin Davis led off the fifth with a four-pitch walk. Hammer struck out Three Young and Chapel Matson, but an error at first base on a pickoff throw allowed Davis to advance to second. A pair of passed balls during Josh Maddux’s at bat let Davis score the game’s first run.
Maddux and Ethan Hamm both drew walks to put runners at first and second and end Hammer’s night. Seymore then greeted reliever Jeremy Simpson with a double to deep left field that plated Maddux for a 2-0 lead.
Seymore took it from there. He retired the side in order in the bottom of the fifth. In the sixth, he worked his way around a bases-loaded situation by striking out Hammer to end the inning. The Cougars went quietly in order again in the seventh.
Seymore (1-4, 2B, RBI) and Justin Dula (1-2, BB) accounted for the Titans’ two hits.
Hammer took the loss, allowing two runs despite giving up no hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out 10 and walked seven, and his pitch count grew rapidly in the middle innings, precipitating his early exit.
“You look at it, and we had 15 strikeouts,” said Smith. “But what that doesn’t tell you is how many of those were on six- and seven-pitch at bats. His (Hammer’s) pitch count was getting up there around the fifth inning, and Brycen’s was still hanging at around 40 or 50.”
McDowell hosted West Caldwell Thursday in a game moved up from its original date of Friday due to impending rain. Results were not available at press time.
First-place South Caldwell (14-2, 10-1) has wrapped up the split conference’s top 4A seed over the Titans, but McDowell can still make the State 4A Playoffs if the Titans can finish with a flourish. McDowell hosts Hickory next Monday and travels to Freedom Wednesday.
The Titans then have a three-game slate of non-conference games in the final week of the season. McDowell hosts South Brunswick Apr. 23, travels to Owen Apr. 24, and hosts the Asheville Trailblazers Apr. 25 for senior night.
Alexander Central 3, McDowell 2 (jayvees) – The Titans dropped a close one to the Cougars, who made solo runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings stand up.
Cole Weaver (1-1, BB) and Peyton Rose (1-4) got McDowell’s only two hits. Dusty Revis drove in a run. Ben Barnes walked four times for the Titans, while Ethan Hensley drew three walks. McDowell (7-7-2, 3-6-2) stranded 13 runners.
Revis took the hard-luck loss, allowing three runs, two of them earned, on six hits in five innings of work. He struck out five, walked one and hit a batter.