Stephenville (10-5-1) collected eight hits but couldn't string enough of them together in a 3-1 non-district loss to Ranger College's junior varsity club Tuesday evening at James T. Young Field.
The Yellow Jackets mixed up their pitching in their break from District 7-3A, which they lead with a 4-0 mark. Brock Morrison pitched the first two innings, followed by Josh Bulla for two and Ben Martin for three.
Ranger had just two total hits, with Morrison allowing none and issuing one walk and Martin yielding just one hit that was quickly erased by a double play. Bulla retired the side in order with a pair of strikeouts in the third, but got himself into trouble with a walk and a hit batsman in the fourth.
That's when Ranger unloaded what was ultimately the only hit that mattered, a two-run double to the centerfield fence. Another run came in moments later on a sacrifice fly.
Bulla got one of the runs back himself with an RBI single to center in the bottom of the fourth. The hit scored Maddux Conger, who opened the inning with a single to left then advanced to second when Noah Hobbs singled to the about the same spot.
Stephenville had other chances. Martin was at second after a single and Jimenez on first via a walk in the bottom of the fifth, and with two outs Hobbs skied a pop fly over the infield grass. The second baseman camped under the ball but lost track of it at the last second. It glanced off him, but the first baseman was standing by and alert, snagging the ball with his bare hand before it hit the ground to end the inning.
The bottom of the sixth was even more strange. Bulla singled to right with one out, and when it appeared Sam Weber walked on a pitch well upstairs and out of the strike zone, Bulla naturally jogged to second. But after waiting for Weber to jog halfway to first base, the home plate umpire announced the pitch was a strike. Before he could even attempt to return to first, Bulla was gunned down at second, leaving the bases empty with two outs.
Morrison had a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh, but Stephenville couldn't muster any hits around it.
The Yellow Jackets will return to district play - and to a more normal pitching rotation - on Friday. They host Glen Rose at 7:30 p.m.