'Horns take woolly affair vs. Bulldogs

By Tim Chambers
STAR STAFF
tchambers@starhq.com

   Friday night's District 1-AA tournament baseball game between Hampton and Johnson County was much like one of my all-time favorite cartoons: The Roadrunner and the coyote. For two innings the part of the Roadrunner was played by a baseball while the Bulldogs defense played Mr. Coyote.
   Taking advantage of four critical errors over the final two frames, Johnson County held on to knock off Hampton 13-12 in a wild and woolly affair.
   "That's been the story all season," said a dejected Bulldog head coach Scotty Bunton. "You've got to want to have the ball hit to you and you got to have the confidence you can make a play."
   Each team put up goose eggs during over the first two innings, but the third produced six runs total, two by the 'Dogs and four more by the Longhorns. Justin Waycaster got Hampton on the board by smashing a double to the outfield and proceeded to steal third base.
   If that weren't enough, Waycaster gave fans his version of former Cardinal baseball great Lou Brock by stealing home for a one-run lead. A walk to Ben Harrison and a double by Brandon Barnett allowed Hampton to take a two-run advantage.
   The Longhorns answered with four in the third as Gary Evans walked, and Michael Davis singled, as did Jesse Jenkins on a bunt. Another single by Zack Reece was good for two RBIs, followed by Jeff Brinker, who laid down a perfect bunt.
   A rocket off the bat of Matt Peters was good for two more runs and a 4-2 advantage. The 'Dogs struck for eight in the fifth inning thanks to singles from Harrison, Adam Miller, Zack Crabtree and Gene Sanchez, along with three hit batsman that gave them a total of 10 runs.
   "We should have won this game tonight," added Harrison. "Brandon (Barnett) pitched well and didn't deserve to lose."
   The Longhorns were aided by a home run from catcher Nathan Paisley, helping the 'Horns stay close. The Bulldogs rang up two more in the sixth when Waycaster and Harrison walked and later scored on a line-drive double from Barnett that accounted for two RBIs.
   The 'Horns answered with four unearned runs in the sixth to close the gap at 12-9. After a scoreless seventh by the 'Dogs, Johnson County shocked Bulldog fans by plating four in the seventh.
   Thomas Moore led off with a single. After a flyout, Davis singled as did Jenkins to load the bases. A Texas league single that hit the right-field line scored one, cutting the lead to 12-10.
   Bunton chose to walk Paisley, who had crushed the ball the entire evening, and Reece responded to the challenge with a single that closed the gap at one.
   The Longhorns got a gift when a potential double-play ground ball hit near third and went into the outfield for another error, scoring Jenkins and Paisley for the dramatic win.
   Brinker got the victory in relief while Barnett took the hard-luck loss going the distance. Five of the Longhorn runs were unearned.
   "We are so close but it's the little things we need to do," stated Barnett. "We need to start working for the season earlier and our players need to start putting more into it. We could be a good team if we worked hard."
   Barnett had two doubles and three RBIs to lead the Bulldog offense. Harrison reached base five times with four walks, a single and two RBIs.
   Waycaster added a double, three walks and four stolen bases. Harrison and Waycaster each scored three times.
   Paisley had three hits, including the home run, to lead Johnson County while Davis contributed two hits and two walks along with scoring three runs. Jenkins helped the Longhorn cause by getting two hits and scoring three times. Reece was big with three hits and three RBIs.
   "It's a simple game -- put the bat on the ball, throw strikes and catch the outs," Bunton said. "We got two right tonight, but the third one killed us."