Cowboys take home opener 6-3 in front of capacity crowd
It's a little harder to hit home runs at Kokernot Field than it was at Ram Field in Del Rio but we found out tonight that the Cowboys can pitch and play small ball when necessary.
The evening started with much pomp and circumstance. The opening ceremonies featured kids from ages 4 - 13 from the Alpine Little League, they introduced the District Champion, Area Champion Lady Bucks softball team and the District Tri-League Champion Fightin' Bucks baseball team. Both of the High School teams had outstanding seasons. The Alpine High School Marching Band played the National Anthem before the start of the game.
The paid attendance was announced at 900 but with all of the kids there I wouldn't be surprised if the actual attendance were closer to 1100. Not too bad for a town of roughly 5,500. If you were one of those lucky enough to be in attendance you may have noticed a drone hovering around home plate as the managers traded lineup cards. Do not be alarmed. It was not an NSA drone, but it did house a camera as the Cowboys were filming a commercial. There was even extra excitement during the game as the lights in right center didn't come on right away when daylight was fading. They just needed some gentle persuading. And, in the top of the ninth, the sprinkler system mysteriously came on. Luckily the first base coach was on the job and cut off the sprinkler quickly.
Noah Piard went 8 strong innings on Thursday, striking out 11 while walking only 1. His only mistake of the evening happened in the top of the second when he gave up a lead off triple to Gary Owens. At one point Piard retired 14 batters in a row. If you count the runner who was caught stealing after a walk in the fourth, Piard retired 17 in a row. After the Owens triple in the second, Piard hit Kyal Williams with a pitch. Billy Crowe, the Cowboy catcher, then let a ball get by him and Owens scored.
The Cowboys scored in the bottom of the first on two walks, a hit batter and a single by Matt Henrickson that scored John Hotta. The bases were loaded and Tyler Heck, the Cowboy second baseman, was the second batter of the inning to be hit by a pitch forcing in Brian Millimen with the second run.
Alpine scored again in the fourth without benefit of a hit as Tyler Heck reached on an error by the Train Robber third baseman, stole second, advanced to third on a grounder to short and scored on a passed ball.
The Cowboys added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth on a double by Anthony Renteria and a run scoring double by Matt Henrickson. Henrickson scored as Billy Crowe reached base on another error by the Las Vegas third baseman.
In the bottom of the sixth, Josh Hotta led off with a double. He scored on a hard shot to the right field corner by Casanova Donaldson who was gunned down at second trying to stretch a single into a double. The throw from the right fielder had to be perfect to get him and it was. That run made the score 6-1 Cowboys and with Piard on the mound the lead looked insurmountable.
Noah Piard was relieved by Ryan Richardson in the ninth. I don't have the Coach's insight as to how Piard felt but according to my score-book, Piard had only thrown 86 pitches and had retired 14 in a row. I was surprised when the youngster was pulled. Of course, the point would be moot had Richardson set the Train Robbers down in order in the ninth. He didn't. He struck out the first batter he faced but then Carlos Hughes, Shane Casey, Gary Owens and Kyal Williams got consecutive singles with Owens and Williams driving in runs. Coach Stevens quickly yanked Richardson in favor of Ryan Rogers. A ground ball, for the second out, moved the runners to second and third. Rogers then got Brian Brademan to strike out looking for the save and preserved the win for Noah Piard.
With the win, the Cowboys climb to 3-0 and the Train Robbers fall to 0-3. These two teams meet again on Friday at 7 PM and conclude their series with a double header on Saturday starting at 3 PM with the night cap at 7 PM.
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