Harris County baseball coach Steve Westmoreland said his team had not been having enough success swinging the bats when they get opposing pitchers on the ropes.
On Tuesday at Hardaway, that wasn’t a problem.
The Tigers (6-1, 3-0 Region 1-AAAAA) got runners on early and delivered en route to an 8-5 victory over the Hawks. The win kept Harris County perfect in the region, while Hardaway (6-2, 2-1) dropped its first region contest of the season.
“We did something we haven’t done much of this year,” Westmoreland said after the game. “In the past, we’ve had guys on the ropes but haven’t gotten the big hit. Today, that wasn’t a problem. That was the difference in the game.”
After a groundout started the second inning, Hughes Massengale singled to centerfield and Channing Brand was hit by a pitch. A strikeout of the next batter nearly got Hardaway pitcher Trevon Dorsey out of the inning, but another hit batter and a bases-loaded walk plated the first run.
Neil Jimmerson followed by coming up with the big hit the team was looking for, a three-run double that gave the Tigers an early 4-0 lead.
Harris County plated two more in the third on an RBI triple by Massengale and a sacrifice fly from Brand. The Tigers scored twice in the fourth, first on an RBI single by Jimmerson and second when the Hawks threw out a potential base-stealer between first and second and Kurt Ornowski crossed the plate from third.
Jimmerson finished the game 2 for 3 with four RBIs for Harris County and Massengale was 3 for 4 with an RBI.
Dorsey left the game after 3 1/3 innings and took the loss. Hardaway coach Chris Gilstrap said it was just “one of those days” for his pitcher.
“He’s one of our better pitchers,” he said. “He gives us a chance every game. You know, sometimes these days happen. Any time you give them free runners, all it takes is one big hit. It was just one of those days.”
For six innings, Harris County pitcher A.J. Willoughby was having a different type of day.
He held the Hawks, who had averaged more than seven runs per game over the course of a six-game winning streak, scoreless through the first three innings. An RBI groundout by Dorsey and a run on an error accounted for Hardaway’s only offense through six innings.
Despite a rough final inning in which he gave up four hits and three runs, Willoughby completed the game to get the win.
“I felt good most of the game,” Willoughby said. “My changeup was working, I was hitting my spots and I was ahead in the count. I was a little tired (in the last inning), but we also had a big lead, so I was just trying to throw strikes and let my defense take care of it behind me.”
Brandon Bynam was 3 for 4 with an RBI for the Hawks, while Josh Anthony was 2 for 4 with a run scored.
Gilstrap said that he liked seeing his team go down with a fight in the final inning.
“Our guys have a lot of fight in them,” he said. “They never feel like they’re out of a game. Unfortunately, we dug ourselves too big of a hole to climb out of and it was too little too late. But they put up a good fight.”
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.
Tuesday at Hardaway
Harris 042 220 0—8 6 2
Hardaway 000 110 3—5 10 0
WP— A.J. Willoughby. LP— Treyvon Dorsey. Hitting leaders— Harris County, Neil Jimmerson, 2-3 and 4 RBIs, Hughes Massengale, 3-4 and 1 RBI; Hardaway, Brandon Bynam, 3-4 and 1 RBI, Josh Anthony 2-4 and 1 R. Records— Harris County, 6-1, 3-0; Hardaway, 6-2, 2-1. Next— Harris County, 4 p.m. Thursday at Central; Hardaway, 6 p.m. Friday at Lee County.