By TONY STINNETT, Courier Sports Editor
Cannon County’s baseball team is at the bottom of the district standings but the Lions believe they are as good as any of the District 8-AA teams they have played.
The Lions (2-15, 1-7) have competed with all of the league teams they have encountered but finishing games has become a sore spot.
The Lions suffered a tough 3-1 loss against Smith County Monday and then blew a 4-2 lead in the late innings and suffered an 8-4 setback against the Owls in eight innings Tuesday.
“We have to learn how to win the close games,” Lions Coach Justin Fann said. “When we get into crunch time we can’t seem to make the plays when they count. Sometimes it just takes winning one of those games.”
The Lions appeared to be on the verge of winning one of those games in the second game of the series Tuesday.
Jake Todd gave the Lions another stellar pitching performance. He pitched four-plus innings, scattered four hits, allowed two runs, one earned.
Jackson Mason’s solo blast to right field tied the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the fourth.
Smith County regained the lead in the top of the fifth but the Lions showed some fight in the bottom of the inning. Todd, who has been on fire at the plate, and Nick Vassar opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Austin Martin reached on an error, allowing Todd to score and tie the game. Jared Judkins laid down a perfect squeeze that scored Vassar and Martin and put the Lions on top 4-2.
The bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. The Owls scored one in the sixth and one in the seventh to force extra innings and scored four in the eighth to sweep the series.
Martin led the Lions with a 2-for-3 effort. Mason was 1-for-4 with a home run.
Tucker Francis provided the Lions another strong effort in his Monday pitching performance but the Lions couldn’t muster enough offense in a 3-1 setback. Francis scattered six hits over five innings.
The score was 1-1 going to the bottom of the fifth when the Owls broke through for two runs. Todd was 2-for-3 at the plate with a triple and a double. Martin also was 2-for-3 and had the only RBI. Trent Bragg was 1-for-3 for the Lions.
Cannon County took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Todd tripled and scored on Martin’s one-out single.
The Lions had two runners on in the sixth and sev