BRYAN – Falling behind early, Swanton battled but could never recover in losing to Bryan 5-1 Friday in a Division II baseball sectional final at Bryan’s Sumpter Field.
“The bottom line is that we couldn’t hit,” said Swanton coach Tim McCarthy. “(Dom) James was really good. He mixes speeds and kept us off balance. We had some opportunities, we just couldn’t get the big hit.”
The Golden Bears were staked to a 4-0 lead after the first inning and rode the left arm of Dom James to do the rest. James did walk five batters, but he held the Bulldogs in check most of the afternoon.
After Bryan scored four runs in the first, Swanton answered with one in the top of the second. Billy Nowakowski hit a lead-off single, and it appeared he would be left stranded after a strikeout and flyout.
However, the Bulldogs put together a rally with two out. Austin Luce singled, then walks to Carter Swank and Tommy Chonko forced in a run.
Swanton then had nine batters go in order before the Bulldogs left the bases loaded in the sixth. Two walks and a single loaded the bases, but a pop-up that James fielded off the mound and a strikeout ended any chance Swanton had.
“We had the right guys up, too,” the Swanton coach said of trying to score late in the game.
Chonko hit a one-out single in the seventh and advanced on a walk to Hunter Mix, but again the Bulldogs could do no more.
Bryan went right to work in the bottom of the first when Nate Miller was hit by a pitch to start. Singles by Logan Clemens and Connor Lemons produced one run.
Benny Roebuck later added a two-run double and he scored the final run of the frame when James lifted a bloop single to shallow right that dropped.
The Bears had a pair of chances to add on runs. Bryan had runners on second and third with one out in the fourth when Swanton worked out of trouble. In the fifth, Mix came on in relief of starter Roman Epley and got a strikeout with the bases loaded.
“We wiggled out of a few jams defensively,” stated McCarthy. “We threw Hunter (Mix) into a little bit of a firestorm there but he did get a strikeout. He was a bulldog and got an out. That gave us a chance.”
Clemens did drive home a run in the sixth.
Epley started for the Bulldogs and allowed four runs on nine hits with two walks and six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
Swanton ends the season with a record of 16-10.
Reach Randy Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org