Runnels bunched together three runs in the second inning and four in the third, then dodged raindrops and comeback attempts the rest of the way to top Dunham 7-6 in nondistrict baseball action at Dunham on Saturday.
Dunham (15-10) came back to score two in the sixth and two in the seventh, but relievers Nick Canevari and Ridge Ory escaped by stranding five runners in the two innings.
“We just didn’t make the pitches when we needed to, didn’t make the plays when we needed to, and didn’t put the ball in play when we needed to,” Dunham coach Joey Thibodeaux said. “The last three innings, we had first and second with nobody out, but we couldn’t get that big hit. Other than that, we competed really well.”
Runnels coach Tookie Johnson thought his team made those plays at the right time.
“It’s always a tough battle with Dunham,” Johnson said. “We’re very evenly matched against each other, and there’s a nice long competitive history. It’s always one run here, one run there and it comes down to which pitcher makes his best pitch at the right time, and you never know when that time will be.
“We struck when the fire was hot, as they say, (in the second and third innings), and we were able to distance ourselves just enough.”
The Raiders scored first in the second inning when Douglas Gulley led off with a double and was sacrificed to third by Brent Hoeprich. After designated hitter Karl Williams walked, Gulley scored on a smash to third base by Ory. Third baseman Chase Day’s throw home hit Gully in the back. Williams and Ory then scored on an RBI single by Johnny Johnson and an RBI groundout by Thomas Myers.
Runnels (15-3) added four more in the third, the big hit coming Williams two-run double after Dunham starter Ben Marmande walked the bases full.
Dunham chipped away with two runs in the second, but Runnels starter Hunter Amadee and Canevari shut out the Tigers on two hits over the next three innings.
Canevari got out into a jam in the sixth when Bond Rodriguez singled home John Austin Volland and Day drew a bases-loaded walk, but he got threw out Nick Brooks on a comeback grounder to the mound to end the inning.
After Canevari walked the first two batters in the seventh, Ory took over pitching duties for Runnels. He gave up a run on a wild pitch, then struck out Rodriguez before his defense botched a potential double play attempt as Dunham scored another run to draw within 7-6.
Ory caught Reid May looking at a called third strike and retired Alec Duhe on a soft fly ball to shortstop.
It was a good day for the lower half of the batting order for both teams
Dunham got four runs from its bottom four batters, led by Volland’s two-RBI hit. The Raiders six through nine batters accounted for six runs, led by Gulley with two runs, Williams with two runs and two RBIs, and Ory with a run and an RBI.
Amedee, who had a three-hitter through four innings, said his departure was pre-planned.
“My slider was my best pitch. It was really working well today. It kept them off balance,” he said. “We hit the ball well, and I just did my best to hold them down. They’re a really good-hitting team.”
Canevari had the unenviable task of facing Day, Dunham cleanup batter, with a full count and the bases loaded in the sixth. Ory said he wasn’t concerned when his defense committed a crucial error in the seventh.
“It’s OK. Our defense makes plays behind us all the time. My job was to just keep throwing strikes,” he said.