ANNA — After winning the regional semifinals with a 20-8 slugfest, Wednesday night looked to be another high-scoring affair in the making for Dodd City. This time around, the Hornets found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreboard against the defending state champions.
The Abbott Panthers totaled 17 hits, scored at least one run in each inning and took advantage of some Dodd City defensive mistakes as the Hornets fell, 15-4, in Game 1 of the Class 1A Region II final.
“Naturally, we’re disappointed,” Dodd City head coach Gary Cosper said. “Abbott is a very good team but we were just poor defensively tonight. When you do that, you’re going to get beat.”
Dodd City (12-11) now gets two days off to regroup and has to win both games on Saturday to punch a ticket to the state tournament. The series resumes Saturday at 1 p.m. at Richards Park in Waxahachie.
“The main thing is that we get to come back on Saturday and try and win two games,” Cosper said. “At this point in the season, anything can happen and I think these guys can make a better showing than what we had tonight.”
The Hornets were up against it early after Abbott (20-9) scored two runs in the top of the first inning after an RBI single from Matthew Urbanovsky and a run scoring via a double play. Urbanovsky finished 2-for-4 with two walks, an RBI and two runs scored.
Dodd City matched Abbott’s strong start with two runs of their own. Three straight runners reached base with two outs before Aaron Munger tied the game with an RBI single to right field.
Abbott was able to regain the lead in the second after scoring on a passed ball and broke through in the third with three more across the plate — led by a two-RBI triple by Cutter Gray.
The Panthers added two runs in the fourth via a sacrifice fly and another passed ball.
Dodd City was able to get one run across in the third thanks to an RBI single from Munger — who finished 2-for-3 with three runs driven in. The fourth inning presented itself as the best opportunity for the Hornets to get themselves back in the game.
Clayton Dockery drove in Caleb Brian on a sacrifice fly after Brian started the inning with a walk. The Hornets were able to load the bases and had the tying run at the plate. A groundout to end the inning closed the best chance to get back in the game that the Hornets had all night.
“All year long, we’ve had trouble driving home runs,” Cosper said. “Give Abbott credit though. They made the plays defensively that they needed to and there were a lot of turning points tonight. That was certainly one of them.”
The hitting barrage kept going for Abbott, which scored two runs in the fifth and sixth innings and added three more in the seventh. Hunter Pope and Nolan Kaska led the way for the Panthers at the plate. Pope finished 4-for-4 and scored three times while Kaska finished 4-for-5 with two runs driven in and two runs scored.