All good things must eventually come to an end.
And for Cullman’s baseball squad, that end came on Friday as the Class 5A No. 2 Bearcats dropped an 8-1 decision to Houston (Tenn.), snapping their 15-game win streak in the process.
It was only the Black and Gold’s second loss in the past 28 games.
“We struggled on the mound throwing strikes,” coach Brent Patterson said. “On the other side, their guy did a really good job keeping us off balance the whole game. They just came out and made us uncomfortable. They had good at-bats and put us in constant pressure on defense. I really tip my cap to them.”
The Mustangs touched up starter Noah Fondren in the second inning with three straight hits to open the frame and jumped to a 2-0 lead on an RBI single and sacrifice fly.
Cullman bounced right back in the bottom half on an RBI base hit from Maison Goodwin to cut the deficit down to one.
After that, however, it was all Jack Rude.
The Houston ace shutdown a potent Bearcat offense over the next five innings — he allowed six hits and struck out nine Cats in the complete-game effort — flummoxing Patterson’s squad with his fastball/slider combination.
“We swung at too many pitches out of the zone,” Patterson said. “I’m not at all pleased with it, but if we can learn from it then we’ll be alright. I wanted to see us start laying off the good sliders and getting good pitches to hit, and that’s really what we didn’t do. After we got down, it wasn’t so much about what was going to happen in the game but whether or not we were going to make adjustments. That’s by far what I was most disappointed in.”
Despite the cold bats, Cullman remained down just one run before a Logan Blackfan two-run dinger extended the ‘Stangs cushion to 4-1 after four innings.
They added four more runs in the seventh off Carter Bowen to seal the deal.
Goodwin and Lance Cleveland each had two hits for the Black and Gold, while Kolby Robinson and Auston Neal had one single each.
The Bearcats were scheduled to take on another Tennessee team, Colliersville, in Game 2 of the doubleheader at 7:30 p.m.
“You can’t let one loss or one win affect you,” Patterson said. “You’ve gotta step in there and play the next game. If you lose game 1 and you sulk, you lose game 2, and you’re going home in the playoffs. Hopefully we can get over this one quick.”
Cullman (33-9) will host 6A Gadsden City Saturday at 11 a.m.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.