The Abilene Cowboys opened the 2021 season with a pair of solid pitching performances from two seniors on the mound. A couple of defensive slumps led to the loss of a double header to Riley County on Tuesday in Abilene.

“We had great starting pitching from our seniors Kaden Coup and Robbie Keener tonight,” Abilene head coach Travis Bartley said. “I was extremely pleased with how we played, the guys competed all night long.”

Riley County scored four times in the top of the sixth to knock Coup off the rubber as they won the opener 7-0. The Abilene lefty had allowed one earned run on nine hits through five innings. Coup struck out three while walking three in his season debut. Junior Kaleb Becker came on to pitch the final frames. He was charged with five earned runs on six hits.

“We had a bad inning of defense in both games,” Barkley said. “The score was a lot closer than what the final showed.”

Riley County sent out an equal solid pitcher in the opener in C. Holle. He allowed two hits and struck out 12 through six innings.

“I thought we battled that kid pretty well,” Bartley said. “We managed to get bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh. Kaleb came on to finish the game for us. He is working on some secondary pitches and once he gets those down, he is going to be pretty tough to beat.”

Keener and Carter Taplin got hits for the Cowboys in the opener.

In the second game, Abilene’s potential offense produced 14 hits off the Falcon pitching staff. The Cowboys scored four times in the first inning and added a single run in third to lead 5-0 headed to the fourth.

Riley County plated five runs in the fourth to tie but the Cowboys came right back with three more for an 8-5 lead after four.

Taplin led the Abilene attack with three hits while Kaleb Becker, Keener and Michael McClanahan had two hits apiece.

Keener went five for the Cowboys in the night cap allowing seven runs on three hits. Only three of the runs were earned. He struck out two and walked two.

“We had that 5-0 lead before a bad inning of defense,” Bartley said. “I was proud of how they reacted from that inning. They could have given up but they kept competing until the end.”

Freshman Stockton Timbrook came on in relief for the Cowboys and was pretty impressive for his first outing on the bump according to the head coach. Timbrook walked one and struck out three in four innings of work.

Abilene trailed 9-8 after six inning but tied the game in the bottom of the seventh to force extras. Riley County pushed across two in the top of the ninth but the Cowboys could only answer with one in the 11-10 loss.

“I am excited for what this team could accomplish this season,” Bartley said. “We keep pitching it well and the offense continues to grow I think we will be pretty successful. Have to clean it up defensively though to have a chance.”

Abilene has a tough schedule this week with doubleheaders against Rock Creek at home on Tuesday and then at Southeast of Saline on Friday.

Contact Ron Preston at sports@abilene-rc.com.

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