Durant falls to Wildcats, 5-4

By Regina Phillips Sports Writer

March 18, 2014

A late Durant rally wasn’t enough for the Lions to pull out a win against the Paris Wildcats Monday afternoon at the Durant Multi-Sports Complex.

Durant (3-0 in district play) had held a 1-0 lead through the first three innings, but the Panthers put up enough in the fourth and fifth for the 5-4 victory. Each team scored in only two innings.

The Lions wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, notching a run in the opening inning. Lead-off hitter Spencer Tidwell got on base with a walk. After Cooper Webb flied out to short center, a balk by Paris pitcher Kaden Callihan moved Tidwell to second.

That set the stage for Alex Brooks to bang out an RBI single toward left field. After a strikeout by Austin Joines, Brooks reached second on a passed ball. But he was tagged out at home when trying to score on a hit by Brandon Robison.

While the Lions held the Wildcats scoreless through three innings, the second and third started the tale of missed opportunities for Durant. Riley Hendrix smacked a stand-up double to the right-field fence in the second inning and advanced on a passed ball. Tyler Stovall dropped a fly ball in the outfield, but Hendrix couldn’t tag up in time and retreated back to bag. Strikeouts by Brandon Maynard and Tidwell ended the stanza.

With two outs in the third, Joines outran a bobble and throw to first by Paris second baseman Conor Henry, then got to second on a miss by catcher Tyler Sanders. Robison was walked, and a wild pitch allowed both to gain another base. But a Denton Comer strikeout stifled the threat.

After Paris’ Jordan Williams popped up to Webb on the mound to start the fourth, the Wildcats went to work. Stovall couldn’t get a handle on a hit by Phillip Nance, who was moved to second when Jon Nichols took a walk. Jack Craft sent a pitch sailing to centerfield for a double that scored Nance. After 10-hole hitter Drew Helberg drew a walk to load the bases, Durant did some switching around and brought Tidwell to the mound. Paris’ starting pitcher, Kaden Callihan, was next to the plate and pulled a two-RBI double to left field. That was enough damage for one at-bat. The Lions went three-and-out to close the frame, down 3-1.

The Wildcats also started the fifth with an out, this time a grounder to third base. Then, Jake Clark put one just out of short stop Joines’ reach for a single and soon advanced to third on an errant throw intended to keep him at first. Williams brought him home with a hit that dropped just past the infield. He advanced to second on a passed ball and was sent on around to score off a double by Nance, who was tagged out when he tried to extend the effort. Nichols popped up but was safe at first when the ball dropped from the second baseman’s glove. The Lions then shut it down, getting the ground out to third, but trailing 5-1.

Webb hit a shot to left-center for a single and reached second on a passed ball, but that’s all the Lions could manage to close out the fifth.

The Wildcats loaded the bases in the sixth on a dropped fly, bobbled grounder and a walk. But the Lions’ defense escaped the stanza without further harm, although the offense was retired in order.

After taking care of the three Wildcats who stepped to the plate to start the final frame, Durant came out swinging. Hayden Burkett routed a pitch beyond the short stop’s glove to centerfield for a single. Tyler Shade came on to pinch run. Matthew Knox got on base with a walk before Tidwell flied out to left. Webb also walked to load the bases, which prompted the Wildcats to switch pitchers. Brooks then banged an RBI single to centerfield, and Jake Smith was brought in to run. After a Joines strikeout, Robison launched a single to center that brought in two runs that cut the deficit to one. With the tying run in place, Carson Campbell got a hard hit, but the second baseman was able to glove it and throw him out to end the game.

“I admire the kids for not quitting throughout the course of the ballgame,” said Durant coach Ron Norman. “The reason we got beat is because we had 12 of our 21 outs in the seven innings were strikeouts, and there were five opportunities early in the ballgame with runners in scoring position that we didn’t get the job done. We’ve gotta grow up quickly to make that happen, to hit with runners in scoring position, and we can’t strike out 12 of the 21 outs.

“They (Paris) did a good job of hitting with runners in scoring position during the fourth inning and took advantage of some miscues that we had — four defensive errors to got with it. It’s hard to win when you do that.”

The Lions take on Piedmont at 7 p.m. today at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. Entry is free to all who show up, according to Norman.

“We hope to have a good crowd there,” he said.