By MIKE MONTFORT (photos by Keith Speer)
— It’s all green lights and blue skies for Coach Matt Podjenski’s Navarro Bulldogs right now.
They head to Mount Pleasant for a 1 pm doubleheader Friday against Northeast, armed with a five-game winning streak, a six-game Region XIV East Zone lead, and a 29-12 overall mark.
Of course, it’s the 16-3 East Zone record that’s most important, but the Bulldogs have goals today of cracking the 30-win plateau and possibly spreading more distance from the division field.
Navarro’s 10-0 win here Thursday in the first game of the three-game weekend series, enabled the Bulldogs to put more of a stranglehold on the zone — coupled with Angelina’s 7-3 win over Panola and Bossier Parish’s 5-3 win over Paris.
NC has 15 regular-season games remaining on its schedule, including 11 conference games. After the Northeast doubleheader, the Bulldogs have three-game series with closest competitors Paris, BPCC and Panola still on the schedule.
Northeast at Navarro / April 14
GAME 1: Navarro 10, Northeast 0 (6 innings)
Sophomore righthander Evan Pontley threw a one-hit shutout in six innings and his teammates exploded for 10 runs and 10 hits over the final four frames.
Pontley (6-0) threw 88 pitches, allowed only a one-out, second-inning single to first baseman Brandon Torres, walked only third-inning leadoff hitter Ruben Mims, and struck out four Eagles.
NC scratched out single runs in the third and fourth innings off starter and loser Tommy Kay.
Cole Williams led off the third with an infield single and Jack McDonnell was hit by a pitch. A 2-2 wild pitch to Matt Munoz advanced runners into scoring position, and, on Kay’s next offering, Munoz hoisted a sacrifice fly to centerfield that enabled Williams to score.
A two-out rally in the fourth produced an insurance run. Colin Chaney reched on a fielder’s choice ground out, stole second base, advanced to third on Robert Salazar’s infield hit and scored after NTCC third baseman Justin Bundy’s errant throw across diamond.
Doubles by pinch hitter Ben Martin, catcher Luis Trevino and Chaney keyed a five-run fourth inning. Trevino’s two-bagger drove home two runs; Chaney’s unloaded the bases.
Third baseman Alex Samples slammed a 1-0 pitch for a two-run home run — his eighth roundtripper of the season — that ended the game.
Temple at Navarro / Monday, April 11
Non-Conference: Navarro 6, Temple 5
NC rallied from a 5-0 deficit to win a non-conference game at home against the Leopards.
Blooming Grove freshman Dalton Blake pitched two innings in relief and claimed his first victory, while Eric Sandoz emerged from a bases-loaded, two-out jam by retiring Chase Cryer on a flyout to centerfield and secured his third save of the season.
Temple touched starter Andrew Morales for four runs in the second inning, highlighted by second baseman Reed Carlton’s two-run single and Eric Potvin’s sacrifice fly.
TC starter Taylor Barksdale retired eight in a row early with two strikeouts. The Leopards got him a fifth run in the top of the fourth when leftfielder Jaylon Brooks singled, took second on catcher Anthony Cole’s sacrifice bunt, stole third and scored a wild pitch from reliever Carlos Carrillo.
The Bulldogs got three runs in their fifth as Salazar doubled, advanced to third on Dylan Lewis’ single, and scored on Martin’s sacrifice fly to centerfield. Lewis scored on Rivera’s two-out single to centerfield and Samples later singled home Rivera.
Blake replaced Carrillo on the mound after 3.1 innings of one-hit, one-run relief.
In the bottom of the sixth, NC rallied for three runs — two on Martin’s game-tying single to leftfield on a 3-2 pitch.
Blake Adams’ seventh-inning sacrifice fly brought home Rivera with what proved to be the game-winning run.
Navarro at Angelina / April 7-9
Game 3: Navarro 17, Angelina 7
Trevino and Samples were the hitting stars in the nightcap as Navarro scored 30 runs in a doubleheader wipeout and completed a three-game zone sweep of Angelina at Lufkin.
Trevino went 5-for-6 with three homers and six RBI. Samples had his third 4-for-4 game of the season, hit for the cycle and drove in five runs.
Trevino was 8-for-13 with four homers and eight RBI, while Samples was 8-for-14 with a homer and six RBI during the three-game weekend series.
They led a 16-hit onslaught to back starter and winner Ryan Buss, who went 5 innings. Brandon Ivey (2.0), Carrillo (1.0) and Blake (1.0) also got work in relief.
Game 2: Navarro 13, Angelina 1
In Saturday’s first game of the doubleheader, the Bulldogs pounded out 13 hits in a seven-inning win as Connor Reich seized his seventh win of the season on a three-hitter.
Blake Adams went 3-for-5, scored twice, belted a home run and knocked in five runs in the opener. Salazar and Kenniel Rivera each two RBIs and Munoz had three hits.