Paradise freshman pitcher Dillon Meadows kept the Krum Bobcats’ offense at bay in three scoreless innings to start game one Thursday of the Class 2A Region II bi-district series.
Then after one defensive mistake by the Paradise Panthers, the Krum bats seized the opportunity to blow the game open with an eight-run fourth inning. Krum added three more in the fifth to score an 11-1 victory in the series opener at Northwest High School.
The Bobcats’ lineup sent 12 batters to the plate, piling up six hits in the fourth inning.
“We made a mistake or two in the field, and they got hot in the fourth inning,” said Paradise coach Scott Broussard. “It’s funny how hitting is contagious.”
Paradise will try to rebound Saturday in game two at 1 p.m. to force a deciding game three following.
“Good news, it’s a three-game series, and this was only one game.” Broussard said. “Anything can happen Saturday. It’s another day.”
Meadows, who rose to the occasion to post a 7-3 record with a 1.99 ERA when ace Kale Johnson went down with a season-ending hand injury, made a strong start through three innings.
He allowed just one hit and one baserunner over Krum’s first 10 at-bats.
Meadows pitched out of a jam in the third with a runner at second with no one out, getting a strikeout, a fly out and groundout.
But trouble came in the fourth when Josh Reeves led off with a single to left. Zack Hughes followed with a fly ball to right that Paradise outfielder Aaron Gilbert couldn’t bring in. Josh Graham made the Panthers pay in the next at-bat with a two-run double to right.
Meadows got a strikeout of Caz Wojiak to record his lone out of the fourth before a double by Ty Darmon and two-run single from Brandon Ellis to make it 4-0 Krum. Ellis’ hit ended Meadows’ night after three and one-third innings. He was charged with five runs – four earned – on five hits with three strikeouts.
“It was one of those nights it didn’t go our way,” Meadows said. “The first three innings were strong. I got to the heart of the lineup, and they started hitting me.
“I left a few up, and they tagged them. That’s baseball. Good hitters are going to hit good pitches.”
Broussard said the freshman made a strong start before getting the quick hook after 52 pitches. He added that he wanted to have him available for Saturday.
“He threw real well for the first three,” Broussard said. “He didn’t throw too many pitches. We’ll probably use him Saturday.”
Connor Berry took over for Meadows and issued a pair of walks to load the bases before Brendan Styles’ single and the second Paradise error of the inning allowed another two runs to score.
Paradise made three errors in the game, leading to five runs. Broussard said it’s an important lesson for a team carrying seven freshmen and having only five players with postseason experience.
“We’re a young team that’s not been in that situation before,” Broussard said. “It’s good experience for them.”
The Paradise offense managed only one run off Reeves, the Krum starter. He allowed three hits, striking out four, walking five and hitting a batter.
The Panthers’ lone run came in the fifth as Jarrett Holt, who reached on a one-out infield single, came home on a passed ball. Holt went 1-for-3.
“I thought Reeves threw a great game,” Broussard said. “He got out of situations and did a good job hitting his spots.”
Paradise had some chances early against Reeves, but couldn’t cash in. The Panthers had two runners thrown out on the bases in the first inning.
In the bottom of the third, Paradise had two on with one out. Reeves then got a fielder’s choice and flyout from Andrew Sims and Logan Bailey to end the inning.
“I don’t think our offense came around,” Meadows said. “It’ll come around Saturday.”