The Longhorns gave up four runs on three hits — including two doubles — and walked three in a four-run third inning, which ultimately led to an 8-3 non-region setback Thursday at Cherokee.
“That’s typical of us this year,” said Kell coach Donnie English, who has seen his team drop nine of its last 12 games. “We’ll give up a six- or five-run inning in a heartbeat, and then we’ll play. We’ve done it over half the season. We don’t give up that big inning, and we’re in over half of our ball games this season. It’s hard to compete giving up that big inning.”
Eli Dickens batted 2-for-4 with four RBIs to pace Cherokee (8-9), while Josh DeChandt was 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Mitch Wright was 1-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, while Sam Mixson and Mason Ward each had an RBI.
“This was one of the few games from Kell where we managed to put some things together,” Cherokee coach Jason McDaniel said.
“Usually, they play such good defense, and they have such good pitching, and they always get the timely hitting. (Thursday), it was kind of our game. We had some guys step up, get some clutch hits with guys in scoring position and that was huge for us.”
Jordan Dwyer walked, advanced on a passed ball and scored on Brady Smith’s single to give Kell a 1-0 first-inning lead.
Cherokee then answered in the bottom half of the frame when Thomas walked, stole second and later scored on Ward’s single.
Two errors and a two-run single from Dickens, which scored Wright and Banas, gave the Warriors a 3-1 advantage in the second.
Kell trimmed the deficit to one in the following inning, when Reid Michalek reached on an error and pinch-runner Mason Keyt — who transferred to Kell following the fall semester, after he quarterbacked the Cherokee football team — scored on Will Smith’s sacrifice fly.
The Warriors blew the game open in the fourth as Waterbor walked and DeChandt doubled. Soon after, Wright’s one-out double plated Waterbor and DeChandt for a 5-1 margin. After a groundout, Banas and Thomas walked to load the bases and Dickens delivered a two-out, two-run single on a full count, building the Warriors’ advantage to 7-2.
Smith’s single in the fifth plated pinch-runner Adam Pedraza to trim Kell’s shortfall to 7-3.
Spencer Ashley singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth and scored on Mixson’s two-out single, providing the final margin.
Smith batted 3-for-4 with two RBIs for Kell.
Steven Summey gave up seven runs — five earned — on five hits, walked five and struck out three in three innings for the Longhorns. Smith allowed one earned run on three hits in three innings of relief.
None of Kell’s five hits went for extra bases, and the Longhorns committed four errors, walked seven and allowed eight hits.
Ward, the Cherokee starter, combined with Wright, Trevor Nevill and to allow eight walks to Kell.
“You get a chance to get people on, you have to move them around and get them in,” English said. “We didn’t do that (Thursday). We had plenty of chances to score and get back into the game, and we didn’t do it. When you walk six people and make four errors, you hope somebody is going to step up and give you something at the plate, but it just didn’t happen.”