ANNA — Anna’s Coyotes showed loads of fight and determination is a 7-5 loss to Aubrey on April 7 at the Anna Sports Complex — and that’s shouldn’t be discounted. Coyotes head coach Joey Hector’s squad was coming off a painful 16-0 loss to Princeton causing some to perhaps count them out as far as competing from here on out.
That’s clearly not the case.
Anna rallied twice this night to tie the 4-2 Chaparrals and took a 3-3 game into the sixth inning before Aubrey erupted for three runs and one more in the seventh. Even then, the Coyotes came back for two runs in their last at-bat.
“I was proud of them, especially after what happened to us on Tuesday,” Hector said. “It was pretty rough. I was glad to see them come back and compete like they did. Really, to be honest with you, they competed about like I thought they would. I thought Zach Howard pitched a phenomenal game and he had a couple of big hits. We stayed at it the whole time — we got the tying run at the plate in the last inning. That’s says a lot about these kids’ character.”
“On Tuesday, we were pretty embarrassed,” Hector added. “Wednesday, we had a team meeting and we kind of let some frustration out on each other — the kids and myself. We came back and practiced that day, then Thursday. We kind of came together yesterday, just decided we’re going to fight for each other. And that’s what they did tonight.”
In Aubrey’s decisive top of the sixth, after Howard had quickly gotten two deep fly-ball outs, he allowed a walk. That brought the Chaps’ No. 9 hitter Gatlin Grisso to the plate and he promptly tripled to the wall in right center, scoring the runner.
“He’s a good 9-hole hitter and he got into one,” Chaparrals head coach Nathan Henry said. “He kind of broke out of his slump there. He hadn’t been hitting the ball too well.”
Lead-off hitter Taylor Swarbrick then stepped in and sent a pitch over the left field fence, near the foul pole.
“He got a pitch up and just drove it,” Henry said. “That’s just a credit to our guys for not quitting with two outs.”
Howard allowed eight hits in 6.1 innings and struck out four before giving way to Koy Harris, who gave two hits and struck out one in recording the final two outs. Cody Johnson threw all but one out for the Chaps, allowing two hits and two walks with nine strikeouts.
“He threw real well,” Henry said. “Starting off, he had all three pitches there. Towards the middle, he kind of left a couple of balls up that they hit pretty hard. … We still need to tighten down our defense. We had a couple of miscues there. But he threw well enough to win us the game.”
The Chaps committed four errors in the contest to Anna’s two.
After Aubrey took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, the Coyotes capitalized on Chaps miscues for a run in the bottom half of the frame. First, Colton Brown reached on a throwing error by the Chaps’ third baseman, then, with two outs, Mason Simmons sent a ball deep to left field that was dropped, allowing Brown to score.
Aubrey answered with two runs in the third off a walk, two singles and two errors. Down, 3-1, Anna got one run back in the third on Howard’s double to left. In the fifth, the Coyotes tied it at 3-3 when Daniel Scott dashed home on Johnson’s errant pick-off attempt at second base.
Simmons, Anna’s right-fielder, made two nice grabs on fly balls to close out the Chaps’ third and fourth innings — a running catch down the line on the former.
Henry said he knew the Coyotes would be ready, regardless of their Tuesday setback.
“You always expect a fight,” he said. “Everybody is about the same in this district. I think anybody can beat anybody on any given night. You start the night, 0-0. You’ve got to play every game. I know Coach Hector does a really good job getting his guys ready to play. He’s a great coach and they’re a good team.”
Coyotes smacked by Princeton at home
Princeton’s Panthers shutout Anna, 16-0, at the Anna Sports Complex on April 4, as the Coyotes were out-hit, 9-1, and committed five errors in the run-rule shortened contest. With the loss, Anna’s district mark falls to 0-5 with five games remaining. Daniel Scott had the lone Coyote hit, a double to center field to lead off the bottom of the fourth.
Princeton (2-3) put up 12 runs in the first inning, as Scott came on for starting pitcher Koy Harris, down 3-0, with no outs and a Panther on base. Scott would pitch one frame, followed by Jeran Lewis and Colton Brown. The Panthers added two more runs in the second and a run in both the third and fourth innings to close out the scoring.
Princeton starting pitcher Austin Hitchcock struck out four in four innings before Shea Malouf closed it out. Tristan Gee, Arturo Ramirez and Hitchcock all had two hits for the Panthers.