Early offense from the Leander Lions was too much for the Hays Rebels (14-7) to overcome in a narrow 5-4 loss March 29.
The game capped off a doubleheader between the two district teams, with the Rebels closing the day 1-1 against Leander. The third and final game of the series was played Tuesday.
Hays dominated Leander 10-0 in the first game of the series. For the second game, the Rebels sent Drew Cooper to the mound.
The Lions jumped on Cooper in the first inning. Following a single from the leadoff hitter, Cooper recorded his first strikeout of the game. The Lions then laced a double into right to score the game’s first run. Another run came in on a fielder’s choice to the pitcher, and the Rebels found themselves down 2-0 before most fans got to their seats. The Lions scored two more runs on a 2-run single and finished the inning with four runs on four hits.
The Rebels responded in the ensuing half-inning. Lead-off hitter Seth Stephenson reached second on a throwing error, and then stole third to get himself into scoring position. Garrison Vaughn then followed with a walk, bringing Aidan Martinez to the plate. Martinez promptly blasted the ball over the fence in deep right center field, bringing in three runs, and cutting the Leander lead down to only one run.
The next few innings were back and forth between the two, with neither team running away with the game. Leander got a run across in the second inning, extending its lead to 5-3. The Rebels answered when Andrew Cisneros came around to score when Leander’s left fielder misplayed a fly ball off the bat of Ulysses Tovar.
Both teams were kept scoreless over the next three innings. Drew Cooper exited the game following the fifth frame. He finished with four strikeouts, three walks, and surrendered five runs on eight hits. Replacing him for the Rebels was Jeremy Copeland. In the sixth inning, Copeland struck out two, and kept the score 5-4. The Lions got to him in the seventh however, bringing in their sixth run on an RBI single. Hays had one chance to try to tie things up.
Leander got two outs quickly, as Vaughn and Martinez were retired. Right when things looked bleak, Cisneros laced a solo home run to left field. The home run put some energy in the ball park, and Chase Ruston followed the lead with a single to right field. However, the Rebel rally came up short as the Lions struck out Tovar to end the game.
Cisneros finished 2 for 3 with a home run, two runs scored and an RBI. Martinez recorded one hit in the game.