When Coppell third baseman Cal Hernandez flied out to end the third inning, the Cowboys had inflicted enough damage in the inning to corral Ryan’s hopes of picking up its first win in District 5-5A play.
Coppell scored five unearned runs off five Ryan errors in the inning, giving the visiting team the cushion it needed for an 11-4 victory on Friday night at Ryan.
“Historically, you hear people say, ‘That one bad inning, that one bad inning,’” Ryan head coach Bret Warnack said. “And usually it’s what determines a ballgame — that you’re not able to put seven solid innings together. We’re still in that situation where we’re having that one bad inning, and we gotta eliminate that.”
The inning started when Ryan shortstop Mitchell Bridges scooped a short hop off the dirt and fired to first baseman Blake Grellhesl. The ball bounced in front of an outstretched Grellhesl and trickled into foul territory, allowing Coppell’s Jeremy Mortensen to scoot into second base.
From there, Ryan (6-10, 0-4 district) committed four more errors and finished the third inning trailing 6-1. On one of those errors, Coppell’s Tyler Zaobjnik lined a ball toward Ryan third baseman Chris McKeehan. McKeehan tried to backhand the ball but instead it rolled past his glove and into left field. McKeehan smacked the dirt as he stood back up.
“It definitely kills us,” McKeehan said of the team’s errors. “Those are the things we have to eliminate for sure. Having a young team, I think swinging the bats will come. That’s something we have to work on. But one thing we definitely need to get better at is playing defense because that’s one thing we have no excuse for.”
McKeehan, who has signed to play at Texas-Pan American next year, led Ryan at the plate. He went 2-for-3 with a triple and RBI, accounting for half of Ryan’s hits on the evening. Bridges and catcher Cade Kennedy had the other hits for the Raiders.
Davis Oliver picked up the win for Coppell (14-3, 3-1) after pitching four innings. Sam Watson picked up the loss for the Raiders, giving up eight runs of which only three were earned in four innings.
Warnack said his team has gotten better each time it steps out on the diamond, but there’s still a plenty of things the Raiders need to work on.
“These teams are further ahead than what we are physically right now,” Warnack said. “Our goal is to keep improving each time we go out, and as long as we do that, I think we’re going to be successful.”
Ryan faces Flower Mound on the road today, with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. The Jaguars are the only team the Raiders haven’t played yet in district play. This year, Ryan will play all five of its district opponents three times instead of the customary two meetings per year.
The Raiders currently face the risk of finishing its first round of district games without a win.
“I think that’s a game we need to come out and be ready for,” McKeehan said. “Saturday games are usually pretty lazy, so we need to make sure we come out and have a really good game.
“I think once get the first one [win] under our belt, we’ll start picking it up. I think it’s the first one that we have to get. I think that will be the toughest one.”
After today, Ryan will still have another 10 games to climb out of the district’s cellar and fight for one of 5-5A’s four playoff spots. But when the postseason was referenced following the loss to Coppell, Warnack shrugged off the notion as of now.
“I don’t even want to contemplate on that right now,” Warnack said. “Our biggest opponent right now is us. We gotta start playing good baseball. If we start playing good baseball, then we can start considering that.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is email@example.com .
COPPELL 11, RYAN 4
WP – Davis Oliver. LP – Sam Watson. 2B – C: Jeremy Mortensen, Jackson Cramer. 3B – R: Mitchell Bridges.