Bulldogs get good pitching, defense in win

Published 12:28 am Friday, April 25, 2008

BUDE — Paced by a sound defense and timely hitting, the Franklin County Diamond Dogs shut out the Morton Panthers 3-0 Thursday night to take a 1-game lead in the best of three series.

The Bulldogs travel to Morton tonight for a 6 start. If necessary, Game 3 has been scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. in Bude.

“We played some good defense tonight and got some hits when we needed them,” said Franklin County head baseball coach Jeremy Loy. “It feels good be one step closer to the 3A quarterfinals. We’ve just got to get the next one. We can’t slip up.”

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Loy watched the Bulldogs take a 1-0 lead in the third inning, as senior Matthew Lofton scored from third off a fielder’s choice from sophomore Hunter Hatcher.

Franklin County (22-5) added to their lead in the fifth inning off two Morton fielding errors. Sophomore DeHendret Collins led the Bulldogs with two singles at the plate.

“I’m proud of how we hustled tonight,” Loy said. “We beat out a few (hits) to get on base.”

Senior pitcher Ben McDowell, a 6-2, 165-pound southpaw kept Morton from scoring with a smooth dose of change-ups and fast balls. The senior held the Panthers to three hits and picked off two base runners.

“It feels good to get this win,” McDowell said, who threw only 57 pitches in going the distance. “Defense made some plays tonight. It was a team effort.”

McDowell ended the game with a smooth pickoff of a Morton base runner. First baseman Blaine Abernathy swiped the runner for the final out to give Franklin County its first second round playoff victory since 1998.

“I called that one,” said the confident McDowell about the final out. “I was going to get him once I saw he got the lead.”

Two double plays by the Franklin County infield kept Morton in check. Colton Laird (third base), Ryne Tutor (shortstop), Hunter Hatcher (second base), and Blaine Abernathay (first base) made-up the Bulldog infield.

“We did what we had to do,” said Tutor after the game. “That’s our job, to make plays, and that’s what we did.”