The Cougar baseball team dropped two games at home Thursday evening to the visiting Muhlenberg County Mustangs by identical 3-2 scores.
In the first game, leading 2-0 in the fifth inning, an error led to three unearned runs as the Mustangs came from behind. In the second game, the Mustangs scored three times in the first inning, then held off the Cougars the rest of the way.
Zach Roberson was the hard-luck loser in this game after the Mustangs scored three unearned runs in the top of the fifth inning.
The Cougars gave Roberson a 2-0 lead after scoring twice after two were out in the third inning against the Mustang’s Jacob Whitmer. Right fielder Braxton Hodges doubled to the wall in left-center field, then scored on a looping double down the line in left by Hunter Young.
Landon Nichols followed by sending a ball that fell just inside the line in right for a single that brought in Young to make it 2-0.
Grayson County put runners at the corners with just one out in the fourth inning, but Whitmer struck out Parker Cain and got Josh Hill to ground out to end the threat.
Meanwhile, Roberson was cruising along, holding the Mustangs scoreless on two hits through four innings. In the fifth, he got the leadoff batter, Cole Shanks, on a come-backer for the first out.
He then got third-baseman Brennan Myers to hit a lazy fly ball into right for what should have been the second out, but Hodges, playing in right, had the ball pop out of his mitt for an error.
Roberson struck out Eli Williams for the second out (which should have ended the game) but then ran into trouble. He gave up four consecutive singles, good for three Mustang runs, before he finally got Whitmer to pop out to end the inning.
Needing a run to continue the game, or two to win it outright, the Cougars never came close against Whitmer in the bottom of the inning. Hodges popped out before Young struck out on three pitches. Nichols then grounded out to third to close out the game.
Head coach Danny Clark had intended to start Gage Akridge in the second game, but Akridge has been practicing with the Cougar football team and was late arriving for this game.
Instead, Clark started Hodges, an incoming freshman, and the Mustangs roughed him up for three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Hodges hit the first batter he faced, starting pitcher Michael Walker. With Walker running, Hodges struck out Nick Casey on a pitch in the dirt, but when the ball went to the screen, Walker wound up at third base.
Camden Carver walked, then went to second on another wild pitch before Hunter Combs smashed a triple to the wall in right-center to drive in the first two runs.
Whitmer followed with a sacrifice fly to left to drive in Combs to make it 3-0. Hodges got Shanks on a liner to Cole Akridge at second to end the inning.
Gage Akridge replaced Hodges on the mound in the second inning and held the Mustangs hitless and scoreless the rest of the way, but the damage had been done. Akridge walked two but struck out eight in his three innings of work.
The Cougars made it close with single runs in the second and third innings, but could not get the needed hits to do more damage.
Walker walked Cole Akridge leading off the second inning. Akridge stole second base, then moved to third on a sacrifice by Roberson. Cain followed with a single to left to plate Akridge and make it 3-1.
Cain went to second on a balk, but Walker struck out both Hill and Hodges to end that inning.
Grayson County scored its second run after two were out in the third. Nichols singled up the middle, then moved to second on a Walker wild pitch. Alex Shellhart walked to put runners at first and second for Jordan Turner, who singled into left to drive in Nichols to make it 3-2.
With the tying run in scoring position at second, Walker struck out Gage Akridge to end the budding Cougar rally.
After Walker walked Hill with two outs in the fourth inning, the Mustang coach replaced him on the mound with Casey, who got Hodges on a fly ball to centerfield to end the inning. Casey then worked a 1-2-3 fifth to give his team the win.