The Watson Chapel baseball team scored six runs in the second inning as the Wildcats defeated Magnolia 9-5 Friday afternoon at home.
Watson Chapel maintained at least a share of first place in the 5A-South Conference with the win.
“We got some runs and they helped us out with a couple of errors,” Watson Chapel head coach Chad Cope said. “You got to capitalize when they don’t make the plays.”
Magnolia third baseman Blake Hall committed three of the Panthers’ four errors in the second inning, when Watson Chapel had 11 batters come to the plate.
Watson Chapel’s Jacob Owen reached on an error to start the second. With one out, Justin Pierce did the same and a single by Trevor Langford loaded the bases. A two-run single by Cameron Banks plated Owen and Pierce and gave the Wildcats (14-2, 8-1 in 5A South) a 2-0 lead.
An error at third base allowed Dalton Barker to reach, for another run to score.
Josh Dardenne reached on an error to load the bases and a walk to sophomore Jaylen Jackson forced in a run to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead.
A sacrifice fly by Landen Colson plated Dardenne from third and a RBI-single by Owen gave the Wildcats a 6-0 lead.
“In the first inning, we were looking at too many pitches, trying to be disciplined at the plate,” Cope said. “But I told them, ‘There is a fine line between being disciplined and letting pitches go.’
“They did a better job after that first inning and getting something they could drive.”
Dardenne is credited with the win after pitching three innings, allowing four runs on four hits with no walks and three strikeouts. He was pulled in the fourth inning after giving up a two-run single that put Magnolia within six runs.
“Josh has been battling a bit of a sore arm,” Cope said. “So we were worried about his pitch count. He has been throwing well for us all year, though.”
Jackson came in as relief and allowed just one run on four hits in four innings of work. He also struck out three batters and walked two.
“He came in and gave up just the one run,” Cope said. “That’s a great job. He’s just a sophomore, so that is something special.
“He’s going to be a special player.”
On April 9, Jackson pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief at Magnolia. He allowed just two hits and one walk in that game.
Watson Chapel scored three runs in the third inning to take a 9-1 lead. Magnolia scored three runs in the fourth inning.
After back-to-back singles by Colton McMahen and Hayden Rich to start the inning, an error at short allowed Austin Roark to reach and load the bases. Dusty Pinner hit a two-run single off Dardenne and advanced Roark to third.
Jackson came in and after getting a pop-up, gave up an RBI single to Zach Ellis. Jackson then got the next two outs on strikeouts.
Magnolia also scored a run in the third and a run in the top of the seventh.
Zac Harrington is credited with the loss after allowing six runs (none earned) on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts in just 1 2/3 innings. McMahen pitched 1 1/3 and allowed three runs on one hit with two walks and two strikeouts.
Magnolia sophomore Dalton O’Donnell pitched three innings and allowed just one hit and hit two batters.
At 8 a.m. on Friday, Cope and his assistants were busy trying to drain the field of the water that had collected from Thursday’s storm.
“I don’t know how many buckets of water we got out of the outfield today,” Cope said.
Cope knew Friday’s game had to be played, because “at this time of the year, everybody is backed up.”
“We just had to go with what we had,” Cope said. “You don’t want to play on a wet field for either team. You are worried about injuries and the last thing you want is for somebody to slip and down and lose a game.”
But Cope said it wasn’t really bad except for one or two spots.
For Chapel, Banks finished 1 for 2 with two runs and two RBIs. Langford was 1 for 3 with two runs scored. Owen was 1 for 4 with a run, two strikeouts and one RBI.
For Magnolia, Rich led the team with three hits, a run scored and an RBI.
Watson Chapel will play at White Hall on Monday at 4:30 p.m.