ANNA – One thing is certain after Anna hosted Bridgeport for a pair of games Thursday to finish off non-district play for 2019: From now on, they all count. Sure, in the opener the Bulls ended Anna’s season-opening undefeated run at 13 games. And the Coyotes indeed rebounded to win Game 2. But as Anna head coach Joey Hector noted the day before the Bulls came to town, “After tomorrow, we’re all 0-0.”
See below, recaps of both of these contests between Anna (14-1) and Bridgeport (3-8) on a sun-splashed, super-windy day at the Anna Sports Complex.
Bridgeport 7, Coyotes 4
The Bulls jumped out, 2-0, early and led, 5-2, after four innings as five Anna errors would hurt the Coyotes’ rally chances. “I hope they take from this first one, you’d better come out ready to play,” Coach Hector said. “In our pre-game practice, we didn’t look like we were very focused. And that team right there drove two hours to beat us. They didn’t come over here just to participate. They did a really good job of just taking it and giving it to us.”
Two freshmen pitchers manned the mound for Anna, starter Dylan Crawford and reliever Kyler Simmons. Crawford went 5.1 innings, spreading eight hits while striking out five and walking three. Seven runs scored during Crawford’s turn, but only four were earned. “I thought he threw well,” Hector said. “We had five errors behind him. We had some plays that we could’ve made and didn’t make. When you’ve got a guy out there who throws strikes and a team that puts the ball in play, you’ve got to play defense. And we didn’t do a very good job of that.” Hector commended Simmons’ 1.2-inning effort as well, an outing that included two strikeouts and two walks and allowed no hits.
All told, the Coyotes out hit Bridgeport, 9-8, but Anna errors helped erase that advantage.
Bulls starter Daniel Delgadillo threw 4.1 frames, permitting seven hits while striking out four and walking three. Jayden Hagar came on to close out the last 2.1, posting two strikeouts with two walks. “I thought we pitched really well,” Bridgeport head coach Ted Leps said. “We don’t have overpowering pitchers. They’ve got to hit their spots and I think both pitchers did a good job of keeping those guys off balance. … [Delgadillo] threw a couple of change-ups to the lead-off hitter, Hector. We were going to throw to him. That was a challenge to our kids.
“Once we got a lead, [Anna] started kind of pressing a little bit. I think their 13-0 [record] kind of played in our favor in that regard. They’re a good team. I think we beat a quality team.”
Bulls pitching may have kept Hector hitless in this one, but catcher Jacob Odom continued his onslaught at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a triple. Zach Howard recorded a team-high 3-RBIs with a single, Dylan Burr went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and Derek Kirschner went 2-for-3.
Down 2-0 in the third, Anna got it going when Odom knocked his first two-baser, a shot to center. Howard followed with single to center that scored courtesy runner Kamden Spence. Burr then stepped in with his double to right field that sent Howard all the way home with a rumblin’ head-first slide to tie it at 2-2. The Coyotes looked to get more when Kirschner and Jay Heath drew ensuing walks, but Delgadillo got out of the jam with a ground-out to third.
Bridgeport came right back in the fourth aided by back-to-back infield throwing errors to start the frame. A bunt followed to load the bases and consecutive singles made it 4-2, Bulls. Shortstop Hector then turned a slick double play at second as another run scored. After a hit, batsmen Crawford took a grounder himself and fired to first to end the threat with Anna down, 5-2.
The Coyotes got a run back in the fifth after Odom led off with his second two-bagger and stole second. Howard’s ground-out to third then brought runner Spence home again and Bridgeport’s lead was 5-3. In the sixth, the Bulls took charge once more with a pair of runs on two singles and two walks. With one out, Simmons came on in relief and after two pitches Odom picked off a Bull at third and Simmons soon fanned the batter to close out the half inning.
Anna got one more in the seventh on Odom’s lead-off triple to right and Howard’s RBI ground-out to short.
Coyotes 6, Bridgeport 2
In Game 2, the teams were again knotted at 2-2 after three but this time Anna pulled away with a pair of runs in both the fourth and the fifth frames.
How big was it to get back in the win column after dropping that first contest, the team’s first loss of the season? “I think it’s got some importance,” Hector said, “but I’m not going to put too much stock into either one of them. We know on Tuesday we’ve got a very tough Melissa Cardinal team [to play] and I kind of think our mindset was we’re already looking towards that. We know we’ve got a tough district we’re fixing to get into. So I’m more concerned about Monday’s practice than I am about anything else.”
Howard started on the mound for Anna and went all but the final out, permitting two hits while recording three strikeouts and walking six. “Zach’s a warrior,” Hector said. “He’s had some ups and downs lately. He’s battled through some stuff, mechanically. To see him go back out there and get back on the winning side and compete like he did, I was proud of him.”
Kirschner got the one-pitch save, a looper to right field gathered in by Mason Simmons. “Coach [Jorge] Rubio had Mason sitting in the perfect spot for that one,” Hector joked. “That was good.”
The Coyotes collected nine hits with Jayden Rodgers, Odom and Hector posting two each and Hector leading the team with 2 RBIs. Michael Burnside and Burr had a double apiece, and Hector, Rodgers and Jaden Adams each swatted triples.
Bulls starting pitcher Kyler Holley struck out four and walked three over 4.1 innings and he permitted seven hits. Reliever Michael Marschall posted one K with no walks while collecting the final five outs.
Howard breezed through the first with a ground out to Hector at short and two fly balls to Kirschner in left field. The Coyotes went up, 1-0, in their first at-bat after Hector’s lead-off triple and a sharp infield single to the left side from Odom. In the top of the second, Simmons made a tough catch in the tricky winds in left and Bridgeport’s runner left second base early. Simmons’ throw to Hector covering second completed the double play. Howard finished off the frame with fly-out to Burnside in center.
In the Bulls’ third, another couple of infield throwing errors appeared for Anna as Bridgeport pulled ahead, 2-1. But another double-play, this time Adams to Hector to Burr at first, snuffed the rally. The Coyotes tied it at 2-2 in the third when Adams belted a 1-out triple to right and Hector pulled a line-drive single down the third base line.
In the fourth, Anna loaded the bases on a walk, a hit batsman and Rodgers’s single to short before the Bulls’ pitcher notched a strikeout. Kirschner then walked on five pitches and the Coyotes’ led, 3-2. Adams was safe on a fielder’s choice that stopped Burr at home, but a walk to Hector then scored Rodgers for a 4-2 edge.
To open Anna’s fifth, Odom beat out a long throw from third for a single and Burr soon followed with a 1-out double that scored Spence. Up now, 5-2, Rodgers smashed a triple to the right-field fence that sent Burr home with Anna’s final run.
In the seventh, Howard made a nice stab on a shot back to the mound for Out 1 then struck out the next the batter looking. After an error and a pair of walks, Hector called on Kirschner for the quick save.
Asked what his brief State of the Team address would sound like after Anna’s 14-1 non-district run, Coach Hector said, “I’d say I’m proud of what they’ve done. But I also know that we’ve got district play coming up. We’ve got to keep swinging the bats like we’ve been doing, stay with the team approach that we’ve had the first 15 games, continue to play defense … and keep pitching.”
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Bridgeport 2 0 0 3 0 2 0 7 8 0
Anna 0 0 2 0 1 0 1 4 9 5
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Bridgeport 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 2 0
Anna 1 0 1 2 2 0 X 6 9 3