McKinney, Texas – The North Texas Copperheads (1-0) debuted a new home field, new team location, new championship banner, and new a host of new players tonight, but kept their winning ways the same as they’ve always been.
The Copperheads, formerly of Coppell, waited until the final pitch from the McKinney Marshals (0-1) to take their only lead. With a pair of runs over already in the ninth to tie the game at four runs apiece, North Texas DH Chris Haney (Dallas Baptist) delivered a three-run home run to left field, giving the 2009 Texas Collegiate League Champions the 7-4 win in the season opener.
The Marshals, the usual home club at Gabe Nesbitt Field, jumped to an early 2-0 lead off North Texas starter Will Lane (Dallas Baptist). McKinney 3B Troy McCartney (McLennan CC) led the game off with a double off the third base bag, and was brought home on a single by 2B Jason Houston (Arkansas-Little Rock). Houston was brought home three batters later on a single by LF Chase Huchingson (Central Arkansas).
After North Texas cut the McKinney lead in half during the second inning, Lane, Copperhead reliever Zack Hall (Arkansas), and Marshal starting pitcher Josh Easley (Weatherford College) combined to allow only four batters to reach base, without a single one advancing past first base.
The seventh inning saw Copperhead 3B Ryan Akins (New Mexico JC) advance to third base on a single to right field by 2B Marcellous Biggins (Howard College), and score on the next at bat to knot the game at 3-3. However, McCartney would take the lead back for the Marshals with a leadoff home run in the eighth off Hall.
McKinney added another run to their lead in the ninth, thanks to a pair of errors by the Copperheads’ defense. Leadoff batter Jordan Buckley (New Mexico) reached on an error by the North Texas shortstop, and came around to score on an error by North Texas pitcher Ben Hays (Arkansas), the fourth error of the game for the home team, and third by a pitcher.
Despite entering their final three outs facing a two-run deficit, the Copperheads would not be denied. Akins drew his third walk of the game to lead off the inning, before Biggins, once again, advanced him to third base on a single. After a fielder’s choice RBI, hit by pitch, and another walk, C Matt Shortall (Tulane) hit a slow roller with two outs past the pitcher, forcing McKinney 1B Tucker Oakley (Weatherford College) to field the ball without anyone to cover the base. Biggins scored from third to tie the game at 4-4, while the Marshals went to their bullpen.
Matt Bonnot (Angelina College) entered to face Haney, who delivered the reliever’s fourth pitch over the left field fence to give the defending league champions their first and only lead of the night.
Marshal pitcher Taylor Christian (0-1) was charged with the loss, while Hays (1-0) escaped with the win. Akins finished the night with a hit, three walks, and a pair of runs in his four plate appearances, while McCartney collected a double, home run, scored two runs of his own, and stole two bases in the losing effort.
McKinney and North Texas will switch dugouts tonight when they meet again at The Gabe for a 7:05 PM start.