WEATHERFORD — Under the circumstances — down by four in the seventh inning — Midlothian head coach Ray Hydes could not have asked for a better situation.
With no outs and the bases loaded, the top of the Panthers’ lineup was due for a big hit.
However, Brownwood’s Shelby Miller struck out two of the next four batters and got the final out when the Lions’ center fielder snagged a potential game-tying extra base hit in right-center field, securing Brownwood’s 7-4 win in Game 1 of their regional quarterfinal series.
“We’ve got a good team and I still believe in them,” Hydes said. “Game 2 is the biggest game, we have to get the momentum back.
“We’re down, but not hurt. We expect to play better (Saturday) and you have to give them credit, they beat us tonight.”
After Brownwood took an early lead in the second inning, the Panthers came back to tie the game on two separate occasions, only to have the Lions retake the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
Lion head coach Scotty Nichols said it was another example of his team doing what it has done throughout the postseason — being resilient.
“Sometimes it takes something to go against us to get us going,” he said. “To take the momentum back in each of those inning was huge, but we know we still have quite a fight ahead of us.”
Brownwood scratched across the first run of the game in the second inning and Midlothian responded by manufacturing a run in the third.
Truett Teague, who scored three of the Panthers’ four runs, led off the inning by drawing a walk and moving to second on a passed ball.
The Panthers eventually had run runners reach second and third with one out.
Teague scored on a sacrifice fly by Nathan Wolf and the Panthers appeared to have just two outs and a runner on third after the play, but the umpire called the runner at second out because he left the bag early when he tagged.
Brownwood responded in the top of the inning when the first three batters reached base, two of which scored on a double by Miller as the Lions took a 3-1 lead. After a scoreless fourth, Midlothian rallied for a pair of runs in the fifth.
Teague started the rally with a one-out double and Chase Edwards followed with a single.
Brownwood managed to strikeout the next batter and tried to throw out Edwards, who was stealing second.
Edwards was safe, prolonging the inning, and Teague scored from third on the throw.
After Wolf walked, Jerrod Spillers singled to center field, enabling Edwards to score from second base, tying the game at 3-3.
Again Brownwood responded with a big inning, scoring four runs to regain the lead and momentum, 7-3.
“You really want a pitcher to go out and be able to shut the door after you have a big inning,” Hydes said. “We made some mistakes and they capitalized on them, but we’re not going to point fingers, this is a team.”
The Panthers loaded the bases in the top of the seventh with no outs, but managed only one run on an infield single by Spillers. Games 2 and 3 were scheduled for Saturday afternoon in Weatherford.
Brownwood 7, Midlothian 4
Midlothian 001 020 1 — 4 7 2
Brownwood 012 040 x — 7 6 1
WP — Shelby Miller. LP — Kyle Fricke. 2B — M: Ryan McElhaney, Truett Teague.
Records — Midlothian 20-7; Brownwood 21-11.