The strangeness started early Friday when the second batter of the game was awarded a three-ball walk.
It continued in the fifth inning when a bizarre mental lapse by Boulder City’s baseball team allowed the tying run to reach second base.
None of it fazed Tanner Howell.
The senior pitcher danced around trouble for most of the day and finished with a four-hitter, lifting the host Eagles to a 5-1 victory over Chaparral in a Division I-A game.
“When he gets himself in a jam, it focuses him and he concentrates more,” Boulder City coach Bobby Reese said. “And that’s when he’s at his best.”
Trailing 3-1, the Cowboys (17-6, 6-3 Division I-A Sunrise) threatened in the fifth inning against Howell, putting runners on first and second with one out.
Howell struck out No. 3 hitter Tommy Crone, but he and catcher Bill Barth headed off the field thinking it was the third out, allowing Zach Harman and Mark Nick O’Connor to move into scoring position.
However, Howell got Eduardo Jimenez to ground out to shortstop Austin Wishard to end the threat.
Howell, a Dixie State signee, threw 122 pitches (76 strikes) and finished with 11 strikeouts and three walks. He fanned the side in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings.
“The last two innings I got in a good rhythm, and the ball started going pretty good,” Howell said. “The last time I faced them, I didn’t throw any offspeed. This time, I knew they were looking fastball, so I used that against them.”
Chaparral, which scored in the second thanks to one of four errors by the Eagles (15-6, 8-0), also threatened in the third until a botched double steal ended the inning.
“They’re giving up the run in that situation, and we didn’t take advantage,” Cowboys coach David Soto said. “We were one hit away from making the game a little more interesting.”
The Eagles took the lead for good in the third when Howell’s single got through Chaparral left fielder Freddie Briones, allowing Colton Bosnos to score from first. Barth followed with a single that scored Howell from third and gave Boulder City a 3-1 advantage.
Wishard added a two-run single in the sixth.
“This is just one league win,” Reese said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do. There’s four league games left, so anything can happen.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.
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