The Howe Bulldogs are finding out that life in the penthouse that is first place in District 11-2A baseball has some disadvantages.
As head coach Torrey Ognoskie told us following the Bulldogs 6-5 win over Tom Bean on April 4, it comes with a price.
"You get everyone’s ‘A’ game. We responded much better tonight than our effort in the loss at S&S and that’s a sign of improvement," said Ognoskie.
Tom Bean, 12-2 losers in the earlier game at their place, was a different team in Howe on this cold night, answering almost every challenge presented by the Bulldogs. Howe had taken a 2-0 lead in the first inning and maybe they let up just a little after that.
With one out, Easton Ross doubled to the gap in right-center and after the expected intentional walk to Garrett Fulenchek, Quinton Harris made them pay with a two-RBI double to give Howe that early lead.
Griffin Underwood worked a couple of scoreless innings before Tom Bean began its comeback in the third. Dalton Blassingame singled to open the inning and he advanced on a ground out back to Underwood.
Back-to-back Howe errors allowed Blassingame to score as the Tom Cats halved the Howe lead.
As all good teams do, Howe answered with a run in their half of the inning. Fulenchek singled to open the frame and after stealing second, the senior scored on an RBI single by Harris, who was 2-for-3 in the game, and reached on an error.
Tom Bean, which came into Friday’s game battling for the final playoff spot from the district, came back in the fourth to tie the score at 3-all. The Cats scored two runs on just two hits and a walk, plus a run-scoring error by the Bulldogs.
Howe responded by taking advantage of some shaky defensive play by the visitors, scoring two runs in the bottom half of the inning on just one hit, a single by Ross. Bryce Mosier reached on a Tom Bean error and advanced to second on a balk by the Tom Cats pitcher. Underwood was safe at first after another Tom Bean misplay and was replaced by courtesy runner, Nick Wilson. Wilson scored after Ross’s single and another Tom Bean error.
The Tom Cats tied the game in the sixth inning, sending seven batters to the plate and getting a two-RBI single by Peyton Jones.
Once again the Bulldogs answered as Randle Nix drew a one-out walk, stole second, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a ground out to the infield.
Fulenchek came on in relief in the seventh and, after walking the leadoff batter, fanned the side to preserve the win.
Tom Bean 0-0-1-2-0-2-0—5
Howe (15-4-1)(8-1) 2b-Ross, Harris