One more scoreless inning from first-time varsity starter Shane Owens or one more hit with runners in scoring position would've given Maryville's baseball team its first win of the season Tuesday afternoon.
Neither scenario unfolded for the Hounds in the seventh inning of a frustrating 3-2 loss to Pembroke Hill.
Down to their last three outs in the seventh, the Raiders scored their first two runs since the second inning on four singles to take a one-run lead and held off a Hound rally in the bottom half.
After an intentional walk that loaded the bases, Maryville's Logan Catlett swung through a 1-2 offering from Pembroke Hill's hard-throwing left-hander Tyler LaPlante to end a game that neither team led by more than one run.
Playing its first of four games this week but first since the season opener with Savannah two weeks ago, Maryville dropped 0-2 on the year. Both losses have been by one or two runs.
"We're one hit away. We're one whatever away," said Maryville head coach Matt Houchin. "We're right there. We just got to get ourselves over the hump."
Maryville fell behind 1-0 in the second inning, but pushed two runs across in the bottom of the fifth with the help of a shaky Pembroke Hill defense to take a 2-1 lead.
This remained the score heading into the top of the seventh.
Three outs from a complete-game victory in his starting debut, Owens ran into trouble right away on a sharp lead-off single by Brett Bethune to center.
The next batter, catcher Sam Frazen, fought off a couple of tough 0-2 pitches before hitting a grounder that deflected off the glove of Owens past second baseman Jose Mendoza into rightfield, allowing the trail runner to move up to third.
"It would've been a perfect double play ball," said Houchin. "Shane reached down to field it which is natural. He deflected it and it re-directed the ball. If it doesn't, Jose is right there. Possibly, we can turn a double play."
Instead of a rally-killing double play, the Raiders had first and third with nobody out.
It quickly became second and third after Frazen swiped second.
One batter later, LaPlante got the game tied at 2 on a grounder to second that was bobbled by Mendoza.
He recovered and tried to throw home, but it was too late.
An infield single from Sam Thomas on a hard-hit ball down the third base line brought home the go-ahead run from third with nobody out. Ridge Yount made a diving stop, but couldn't get to his feet in time to throw out any of the runners.
Page 2 of 3 - Two batters later, a single by Dylan Peters with one out loaded the bases and brought an end to Owens' stellar outing.
His final line was 6 1/3 innings, three runs, 11 hits, no walks and two strikeouts.
"Shane's just a good kid," said Houchin. "He goes out there and has fun."
Senior Lane Hermelink came on in relief of Owens and bailed the Hounds out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout and a force out at home plate. This kept the deficit at a much more manageable one run heading to the bottom of the inning.
"That was awesome because last time he had a little trouble," said Houchin. "This time, he came right in firing strikes to get out of the inning."
LaPlante retired Yount on a line out to left to start off the last frame, but the next batter, Jonathan Baker reached on an error by third baseman Dylan Peters.
Tyler Tripp followed with his second single of the game, moving Baker up to third base with only one out.
Owens made the second out with a grounder back to the mound and neither runner advanced.
Pembroke Hill coach Jeff Diskin elected to walk five hole-hitter Trent Dredge, who had reached base all three times, to face Catlett with the bases loaded.
The move paid off as LaPlante struck out Catlett swinging to finish off the complete-game victory.
It was his ninth strikeout of the game.
"He's one of the better pitchers we're going to see," said Houchin. "I know he beat Oak Grove Friday and they're ranked No. 4 in Class 4. I thought we hit the ball better than we did in our last game against Savannah."
Maryville finished with seven hits after mustering only three in the season opener, but none went for extra-bases.
The Hounds also left 12 runners on base and at least one in every inning.
"We just have to find a little more consistency in there," said Houchin. "Keep getting outside, getting swings in BP, keep working hard and I think we'll be fine."
Pembroke Hill also left a runner or more in all seven innings, but capitalized on an early scoring chance in the second inning to lead 1-0. After back-to-back singles to begin the inning, Asher Abrhams laid down a sacrifice bunt that scored Joe Thomas from third.
The Hounds had first and third with nobody out in the bottom of the inning, but came away with nothing.
In the third, Baker was robbed of an extra-base hit down the right field line on a diving catch.
Maryville again threatened in the fourth, but Mendoza was called out on a close play at first to end the inning with a runner coming home from third.
Page 3 of 3 - Finally in the fifth, the Hounds took advantage of a Pembroke Hill miscue to score their only two runs.
Yount got aboard with a one-out infield single and Baker roped a single to center that was mis-played. An errant throw into the infield allowed Yount to score and Baker to reach second.
With two outs, Dredge came through with a run-scoring single that gave Maryville the lead.
It stood up until the decisive seventh inning.
"The guys were loose," said Houchin. "They played hard. Sometimes the balls don't bounce your way and today they didn't."
Maryville is back home Thursday to host Cameron. They play a doubleheader against Benton and Lafayette Saturday in St. Joseph.