The McLennan Highlanders fell to the Howard Hawks 7-5 Saturday afternoon at Bosque River Ballpark. Nick Urbantke took the loss on the mound for the Highlanders.
McLennan took an early lead with three runs in the bottom of the third. Nick Thornquist singled and moved to second on a Hawks error. Keaton Milford was hit by the pitch, and Chase Sortor drew a walk. Thornquist scored on a wild pitch, and Milford scored on a double by Mitchell Caskey. Sortor also scored on a wild pitch.
Howard got on the board with two runs in the top of the fourth. Bryan Sturges led off with a double and scored on a double by Nick Jodway. Jodway then moved to third on a ground out by Doug Facendo and scored on a Highlander error.
The Highlanders added a run in the fourth as Dylan Neuse tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Milford.
The Hawks took the lead with five runs in the top of the sixth inning. Sturges was hit by the pitch, and Jodway walked. Facendo reached first safely on an error, bringing Sturges and Jodway in to score. Tristan Peterson singled, and Brett Cain bunted to load the bases. Saul Garza was hit by the pitch, bringing Facendo in to score. Peterson scored on a sacrifice fly by Coll Stanley, and Cain scored on a McLennan error.
McLennan rounded out the scoring with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Neuse was safe at first and advanced to second on a Hawks error. Neuse then stole third and scored on another error.
"Today is a day we are going to look forward to learning from and then forgetting. It was not one of our best efforts. It was our first ballgame of the year where we didn't play very good defense and where we really struggled to just handle the emotions of the game. That is on me as a coach, and I will do a better job of getting my guys prepared and our guys will respond to it," head coach Mitch Thompson said. "We will look it in the eye and get better at dealing with adversity and overcoming some things."
"The wind chill was in the upper 20s and I think that was a factor. But, that is something we can't allow to be a factor; we have to be tougher than that. We will go to work on things like that. Overall, it was a game of inches, and the difference in the game came down to the very last play of the game. Their guy makes an unbelievable diving catch on a ball in the right-field gap. If he doesn't make the play, we have a tied game with one out and the winning run on third base, or possibly could have had an inside-the-park home run because Neuse can really run."
"It was a tough day, not our best effort but one that we will learn from and will make us better in the long haul."
Game two of today's doubleheader was canceled due to declining weather conditions. The Highlanders will host Navarro at 2 p.m. Friday.
Howard 7, McLennan 5
Howard 000 205 0 – 7 6 4
McLennan 003 101 0 – 5 7 5
Tyler McKay, Ryan Williams (4), Austin Smith (6), Cam Allison (7), Aaron Samaniego (7) and Saul Garza. Shane Daughety, Nick Urbantke (5), Alex DeLeon (6) and Nick Thornquist. WP: Williams; LP: Urbantke; SV: Samaniego. Leading hitters – Howard: Bryan Sturges (1-2, 2B), Nick Jodway (1-3, 2B, RBI), Tristan Peterson (2-3), Brett Cain (1-3, RBI), Saul Garza (0-2, RBI) and Coll Stanley (0-3, RBI); McLennan: Dylan Neuse (1-4, 3B), Keaton Milford (1-2, RBI) and Mitchell Caskey (2-4, 2B, RBI). Record: McLennan 8-2.