COWETA – A year ago the Durant Lions weren’t very good in tight games, struggling in late inning situations. The 2017 season however has provided a completely different story as they continued their mastery in close contests on Thursday evening.
Durant scored three runs in the opening frame and made that early outburst stand up for a 3-1 road victory over Coweta to improve to 4-0 overall and more importantly 2-0 in the young District 5A-3 season.
The Lions will next be on the road next week at the 24th Annual Aggie Baseball Classic in Pensacola, Florida.
Junior Connor Roberts was pitching story with a complete game masterpiece in which he scattered five hits and struck out six while pitching out of a few jams to earn his first mound victory. He allowed no earned runs.
“We’re not swinging the bats like we are capable of but we’re still 4-0, which says a lot,” Durant head coach Ron Moore commented. “Pitching-wise and defensive-wise we are making big plays to give us a chance in every game. We gave us a lot of runs in those situations last year. We made a couple of miscues in the first inning tonight but after that we settled in and were outstanding behind Connor. He did a great job again for us, keeping them (Coweta) off-balance and battling out of a few tight spots.”
It looked like Durant might run away with its second straight win over the Tigers as it plated three runs in the opening stanza while battling almost completely through the order.
Matthew Knox got things rolling with a one-out single to right and followed with a stolen base. Roberts then coaxed a walk before both rode home on a smashing two RBI double off the bat of Brady Nichols just four batters into the game.
Kolby Blake followed with another single and Braeden McKee made it 3-0 with a run-scoring hit of his own.
The Tigers however worked out trouble from there with back-to-back strikeouts and Durant managed only one base runner the rest of the way on a Knox two-out double in the fifth.
“We got some timely hitting in the first inning and made the most of our chance before their pitcher settled in and got better as the game went along,” stated Moore. “It was good to jump out early and continue to build our confidence. We’ve come out every game with the mindset that we are going to make the plays to win the game.
“We’re not quite swinging it as well as we did the scrimmages overall but that has a lot to do with the better pitching we have faced. We are just a couple of hitters away at the bottom of the order from being a really good club, but we’re going to keep plugging away trying some different guys there. I think we’ll be alright offensively as we go along.”
Coweta answered the Lions’ early explosion with an unearned run in the bottom of the first, taking advantage of a misplayed fly ball and then a bad decision on an infield single by the hosts.
Roberts however put the clamps on the Tigers from there in a 102-pitch performance, despite a few sticky situations.
The Tigers had two runners in scoring position in the fourth before an inning-ending groundout to McKee at second. It was a similar situation in the fifth and sixth frames before Roberts slammed the door each time.
Coweta had one final chance in the seventh, putting the tying runners on base once again but the Durant righthander got a game-ending liner that Nichols snagged to finish it off.
The Lions finished with five hits, four of which came in the opening stanza, with Knox totaling two of those as Nichols, Blake and McKee added one each.
“Our guys just keep plugging away and making the plays when we need them,” Moore said. “Our team attitude right now is that somebody is going to step up and make a play. It doesn’t matter who it is.”
Contact Kevin Farr at 580-634-2161 or [email protected]