By the time the seventh inning rolled around in Tuesday’s District 5-5A opener between Flower Mound Marcus and Ryan, the suspense regarding the final outcome had been all but removed.
The question wasn’t whether Marcus was headed for victory. It was whether Ryan could muster a hit against Marauders pitcher Conner Dotson.
When Ryan second baseman Cody McBee flied out to center field for the game’s final out, the answer was a resounding no.
Dotson (4-0) struck out 13 batters and picked up the no-hitter in Marcus’ 8-1 victory at Ryan. It was the first district game for both schools.
“We were just pretty much overmatched at the plate,” Ryan coach Bret Warnack said. “It’s just something we have to see and keep working on. We have to get better offensively.”
The closest Ryan (6-8) came to scratching out a hit against Dotson came in the sixth inning. After Ryan sophomore shortstop Shomari Cann walked and advanced to second base on a throwing error, sophomore left fielder Ryan Burks hit a slow ground ball toward first base. The throw to first would have gotten Burks out, but it went wide of the bag.
Burks reached on the error and Cann scored Ryan’s only run of the evening.
But for the rest of the night, Dotson was almost untouchable. Up until the sixth inning, Ryan only put four balls in play against the right-hander.
“His fastball was explosive,” Marcus coach Jeff Sherman said. “He was getting ahead of hitters, and then his curveball he was throwing for strikes. When you’re doing that, you’re going to have a lot of success.”
Senior Chris McKeehan (2-1) took the mound for the Raiders and picked up his first loss of the year. He lasted three innings and allowed five earned runs on six hits. He had three strikeouts and three walks before senior right fielder Kraig Behrens pitched the game’s final four innings.
“He didn’t throw as many strikes as he normally does,” Warnack said of McKeehan. “I think he might have been pressing with that.”
McKeehan had trouble locating the strike zone early on and had five straight batters reach in the first inning. By the time he got Marcus left fielder Logan Sepanek and center fielder Spencer Gil to strike out swinging to end the first, the Marauders had sent eight batters to the plate and opened up a 3-0 lead.
With Dotson on the mound, Marcus (15-1) didn’t need to score much Tuesday night. Warnack said Dotson had good velocity and a good breaking ball to keep Ryan’s batters off balance. The Ryan coach also said the Marcus right-hander is the best pitcher the Raiders have faced all season.
“We have a lot of young guys, and obviously it’s the first time they’ve ever seen anybody like that,” Warnack said. “We’ve got to just continue to work and continue to get better. We’re going to see that all year, so the more and more we see that, the better and better we’re going to get offensively against something like that.”
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FLOWER MOUND MARCUS 8, RYAN 1
WP — Conner Dotson. LP — Chris McKeehan (2-1). 2B — M: Nick Lewis.