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The Denton Broncos dug themselves quite a hole with four losses to open District 6-5A play but took the first step toward climbing back into contention on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the once-surging Ryan Raiders are going in the opposite direction.

Behind a dominant pitching performance from senior ace Caden Greanead and a big fourth inning at the plate, the Broncos rallied for a 2-1 win over Ryan at Cotton Nix Field. The win snapped a 17-inning scoreless stretch at home for Denton, which came in as the only winless team in district.

After starting district 3-0, Ryan has lost its last two district games.

“The good thing about this district is that Grapevine is 4-0. Everyone else is right there. We’re chasing the fourth spot, and the way I look at, we’re two games behind,” Denton coach Toby Rumfield said. “We’re going to have to beat some teams that we’re not supposed to beat. We know that. But we have to keep winning. There’s no other way around that.

“More than anything, I want us to play good baseball. That was good baseball. We had been playing some bad baseball.”

The Broncos can credit Greanead for this one. After giving up a run in the top of the first inning, Greanead went unscathed the rest of the way while striking out 10 and allowing just three hits.

He mowed through the last 17 batters he faced.

What was more impressive was that he maintained his poise while battling toe-to-toe with Ryan’s Conner Bivins. This was a one-run game through the first 3 1/2 innings, and Bivins was just as potent on the mound. He finished the night allowing five hits and held Denton scoreless through the first three innings.

But it was Greanead who finally got the run support when it mattered. With two outs and two on in the bottom of the fourth, Baylor Battles laced a pinch-hit RBI single between third and short to tie the game. After another single from Ryan Cooper, Chase Acker poked a single through the infield to score the go-ahead run.

“It was a well pitched game on both sides. We made a mistake that cost us a run and put them ahead,” Ryan coach Bret Warnack said. “We knew they were very talented, and I knew Caden was going to be tough. It wasn’t a surprise to us at all. I don’t think you can look at records in this district. There’s too much good pitching and good teams all the way through.”

Denton has found itself in plenty of one-run games this season and hasn’t come out on top very often. But in this situation, Greanead said he had all the cushion he needed.

“We’ve been in close games all year, so I kept doing my thing,” Greanead said. “I think I do better in those situations. I like being under pressure and being the guy who does the big jobs.”

Both teams are back in action on Thursday as Denton travels to Ryan.

STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 469-360-3611 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.

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