Wasted chances haunt Titans in NWC opener

McDowell senior Juan Campos throws a pitch. Campos pitched well in Tuesday's Northwestern 3A/4A Conference opener against St. Stephens, but the Titans fell 2-1. Josh Davis/blueridgesportsphotography.com

If Juan Campos continues to pitch the way he did Tuesday night, he’s going to keep the McDowell Titans in a lot of games this season.

But McDowell is still going to have to hit the ball in order to turn maybes into wins.

The Titans (1-1 overall, 0-1 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference) dropped a heart-breaking 2-1 setback to the St. Stephens Indians in the conference opener on a frigid night at Titan Field.

Campos was outstanding, but St. Stephens scratched out a couple of runs in the first inning and then fell back on the left arm of Wake Forest recruit J.D. Everett.

“Juan pitched great and I’m proud of him; he gave us a chance to win,” said Titans head coach Alex Smith. “But their guy threw really well, too, and he overpowered us. I think that’s where you’ll see us grow as a team as the season goes on.”

St. Stephens parlayed a walk, an infield single and a hit by pitch in the top of the first into two runs, one of them coming on a steal of home by leadoff hitter Matt Walker.

Campos was money the rest of the way, but the damage had been done. Campos worked seven innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on two hits. He struck out six, walked three and hit a batter. Of the 86 pitches Campos threw, 54 were for strikes.

Everett got the win for St. Stephens, pitching 4 2/3 innings and allowing a run on one hit. He struck out 10 and walked four. Eli Walsh threw one-hit ball over the final 2 1/3, walking three and striking out four.

Trailing 2-0, the Titans got on the board in the bottom of the fifth. Ethan Hamm drew a leadoff walk and eventually stole second and third. Chapel Matson’s (RBI) bunt to the right side drove in Hamm.

But that was it for McDowell.

The Titans had some chances to score, but couldn’t break through and ended up stranding nine baserunners.

Brycen Seymore (1-for-3, BB, SB) singled to start the fourth. Justin Dula was hit by a pitch and Gage Gentry sacrificed to put two men in scoring position with one out. But the Titans couldn’t get them home.

In the sixth, Ethan Davis (1-for-3) had a two-out infield single followed by walks to Justin Davis (2BB) and Hamm (2BB, 2SB). Again, McDowell came up empty-handed.

“There were three times where we failed to get a bunt down,” said Smith. “And we left the bases loaded. We just didn’t execute when we needed to.”

Jake Speaks and Josh Kidd each had a single for St. Stephens. Those were the Indians’ only hits.

McDowell hosted R-S Central Wednesday in non-conference action. The Titans are at home Thursday in league play against South Caldwell (4 p.m. jayvee, 7 p.m. varsity). The game was originally slated for Friday, but was moved up a day to avoid a possible rainout.

McDowell 2, St. Stephens 2 (jayvee baseball) – The Titans and Indians deadlocked in Wednesday’s opener.

Logan Duncan went 2-for-3 with a pair of stolen bases for the Titans while Ethan Hensley (RBI), Dusty Revis, Michael Lewis and Travis Bailey collected one hit apiece.

Ben Barnes (3K) and Mason Lamb pitched three scoreless innings apiece for the Titans.




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