Hitting was a bit scarce against two tough Florida hurlers Wednesday as the Durant Lions dropped a pair of decisions in the rugged Pensacola Aggie Classic despite early leads in each contest.
Durant opened with a 4-1 loss to Tate High School despite a strong mound outing from Brady Nichols but couldn’t manufacture enough offensively after the opening stanza.
The Lions then dropped a 3-2 decision to Pensacola Booker T. Washington in the nightcap to see their record slip to 4-3 on the season.
They were slated to finish off the event with a single game today.
Tate 4, Durant 1
The Lions got off to a solid start, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the opening stanza on a Connor Roberts solo home run with two outs.
Nichols also contributed a single up the middle before the first inning was over but that proved to be two of only three hits Durant could muster against Tate southpaw Trey LaFleur.
After the junior righthander retired the Aggies in order in the bottom of the first, Durant picked up a couple of base runners with a walk to Kolby Blake and single from Jensen Simmons. The Lions however failed to score when courtesy runner Kyle Hughes was questionably called out at home on a double steal.
Tate answered with three runs in the second, cashing in three hits and a walk but the Nichols slammed the door from there before working out of a bases loaded, no out jam the very next frame.
He yielded just one more unearned run in the sixth while hurling five and two-third frames of seven-hit ball in the tough luck defeat.
Matthew Knox was hit by a pitch with two outs in the third but was the Lions’ final base runner as their final 13 batters were retired in order.
Booker T. Washington 3, Durant 2
For the second straight contest the Lions jumped out to an early lead, building a 2-0 advantage just four batters into the game. That advantage though wasn’t enough to hold up as they went scoreless over the final six frames.
Wildcat starter Hunter Viets worked out of the early trouble and seemingly got stronger as the game progressed, including recording seven of the final eight Durant outs on strikeouts.
Early on it looked like the Lions might break out of their Sunshine State offensive struggles as Dakota Finley and Knox opened with singles. Following a Washington error, Roberts plated the first tally with a sacrifice fly to left and Nichols followed with a run-scoring ground out to quickly make it 2-0.
Finley, who got the start on the mound for Durant, breezed through the first innings before running into control problems in the second. He got out of a bases loaded jam however when umpires awarded the Lions a double play on runner interference to end the stanza.
Durant only managed a Roberts single in the third before Finley once again wiggled out of trouble in the bottom of the frame following a pair of hit batsmen and walk to start the inning.
The Lions weren’t as fortunate in the fourth as the host Wildcats capitalized on a leadoff walk, wild pitch and error ahead of three hits as they pushed across three runs. Darius Anderson had the big hit with a two-run single down the rightfield line that gave Washington the lead for good at 3-2.
Singles by Brayden Green and Nichols in the fifth coupled with a walk to Roberts load the bases before Viets began his strikeout parade. He mowed down Durant hitters in the sixth and seventh as well thanks largely to a solid breaking ball which the Lions couldn’t lay off.
Overall, Viets struck out 10 in the complete game effort.
Meanwhile Finley took the loss in four innings of work, yielding three runs on four hits with four strikeouts but issued six free passes. Braeden McKee tossed the final two stanzas, striking out one while retiring the Wildcats in order.
Finley, Knox, Roberts, Nichols, Simmons and Green all finished with one hit apiece for Durant.
Contact Kevin Farr at 580-634-2161 or email@example.com