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Panthers take advantage of Cowboy mistakes and timely hitting to outscore Crook County

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Carson Smith tags Redmond's Austin Carter out at third. Carter tried to stretch a double to a triple on the play, but the ball beat Carter to the bag.The Crook County Cowboys dropped a pair of baseball games to the Redmond Panthers Friday afternoon.

The host Cowboys had plenty of opportunities to score, especially in game two, but struggled to score as they lost 6-1 and 8-2 to the Panthers.

"I don't know if it's a mental thing or that we lock up with runners on, but it seems like we don't get those timely hits that we need," said Crook County head coach Kramer Croisant. "We actually hit the ball pretty well, looking at the stats."

Redmond pitcher Andrew Mckague pitched an outstanding game in Friday's opener, giving up just two hits. Still, the Cowboys had multiple opportunities to score, but each time, Mckague was able to get out of trouble. The Cowboys stranded two runners on base but had three runners thrown out at third base in the contest.

Meanwhile, Crook County pitchers Louis Duran and Clayton Wilkens each gave up four hits in the contest. However, unlike the Cowboys, the Panthers were able to move their runners around the basepath.

Redmond opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the third inning. The Panthers added two more runs in the third, then added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth.

The Cowboys finally scored their lone run of the game in the bottom half of the seventh inning. Kyle Knudtson reached base on an error, then scored on a Carson Smith double. The Cowboys could have potentially scored more runs in the inning, but for an unusual double play. With one out, and Smith on second, Garett Bernard struck out, but the catcher dropped the ball. Bernard raced toward first, but the ball beat him to the base for an out. Meanwhile, Smith broke toward third, and Redmond made a perfect throw to third, tagging Smith out in a close play, ending the inning and the game.

Game two was more of the same.

Redmond took advantage of a walk, an error and a sacrifice to score a run in the first inning. The Panthers scored three more in the second inning, despite getting just one hit in the frame.

Meanwhile, Clayton Wilkens doubled in the first inning but was thrown out at home later in the inning. In the second inning, Ethan Cossitt singled, but the Panthers were able to turn a double play and get out of the inning.

The Cowboys loaded the bases in the fourth inning but were unable to find a way to score as Panther pitcher Kyle Simpson pitched his way out of the jam.

Redmond finally started hitting the ball hard in the fifth inning as they had two more runs off of a double and a triple.

Brody Connell reached third in the bottom half of the inning, but once again the Cowboys were unable to score.

The Cowboys replaced Kyle Knudtson on the mound with Diego Smith to start the sixth inning.

Knudtson struck out six and gave up just five hits in his five innings of work. Smith also pitched well, giving up just one hit in the game's final two innings, but still gave up a run in the top of the seventh inning as the Panthers extended their lead to 8-0.

Crook County scored one final run in the bottom half of the inning. Wilkens walked to start the inning, then went to third on a Knudtson single. Wilkens scored on a wild pitch.

Redmond finally pulled starting pitcher Kyle Simpson with two outs in the inning as Simpson reached his maximum allowable pitch count. Simpson struck out six, walked two and scattered eight hits in his six-and-two third innings of work, while allowing just two runs.

With Simpson out of the game, the Cowboys loaded the bases on relief pitcher Anthony Lilleboe. Redmond then made their second pitching change of the inning replacing Lilleboe with Cooper Browning. Two pitches later, Cossitt hit a ground ball that was field cleanly by Redmond's second baseman, who flipped the ball to the bag for the final out of the game.

"I feel like the team did a half-way decent job," Carson Smith said. "But we didn't hit when we need to hit the ball. We left a lot of people out on base. We need to get more timely hits. The same guys are hitting over and over again, and the same guys are not getting hits. We need to build the confidence of players on our team that when they get up to bat, they hit the ball. We will score a lot more runs that way."

Croisant was disappointed with the pair of losses, which dropped the Cowboys to 3-4 in conference play and 9-9 overall.

Meanwhile, Redmond moved ahead of the Cowboys into third place in the IMC with a 4-2 conference record and a 10-4 overall record. The Cowboys, who had a chance to move into a virtual tie for first with a pair of wins on the day, dropped all the way to fifth place in the league standings as they reached the halfway point of the conference schedule.

"It hurts to lose both games," Croisant said. "It will be the first series that we lose. We split all of the other doubleheaders, so we still have a shot with tiebreakers and stuff like that, but this one hurts because I think that we can compete with them. We just didn't play our best today."

The Cowboys host second-place Pendleton on Tuesday in what was originally scheduled as a single game.

However, game two of the team's doubleheader in Pendleton was suspended after three innings with the Cowboys leading 9-3. That game will be resumed beginning at 2:30 p.m. in Prineville, with the regularly scheduled to game to follow once the first game is finished.

Game 1

Redmond 6, Crook County 1

Redmond 002 202 0 — 6 8 1

Crook County 000 000 1 — 1 3 2

Game 2

Redmond 8, Crook County 2

Redmond 130 120 1 — 8 6 2

Crook County 000 001 1 — 2 8 3

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