NC tries to gain tourney momentum in final 2 with Panola

The Region XIV East Zone champion Navarro Bulldogs (36-14/23-5) carry a four-game winning streak into Saturday’s 1 pm doubleheader here against Panola.

Coach Matt Podjenski’s Bulldogs have several short-term goals that feed into long-range plans as the regular season concludes at Perry D. Graham Field.  A sweep would:

  • allow the Bulldogs exactly 38 wins in a season for the third time since 2010
  • give the Bulldogs 25 conference wins for the third time in the last four seasons
  • wrap up an 8-2 record in winning three-game conference series this year; and
  • complete a regular-season with a 14-2 record at Graham Field.
On Thursday in the final regular-season road game at Carthage, Navarro wiped out a 5-1 second-inning deficit, got three hits and four RBI from second baseman Robert Salazar, and rode a brilliant 7.2 inning bullpen performance to victory.
Winning reliever Mark Geisel, Gary Watkins and Matt Kelley combined for two-hit pitching with 10 strikeouts in a shutdown effort.  Geisel claimed his fourth win of the season by working a season-long 4.2 innings of one-hit relief with six strikeouts.
Tate Gillespie, making his first start since March 25 at BPCC, threw 41 pitches in 1.1 innings and was touched for all five Panola runs.  The Ponies mounted an early lead on a two-run homer from catcher Chad McKinney, followed by a solo shot from leadoff hitter Colby Price before GIllespie was removed.
Enter Geisel, who allowed only a two-out, third-inning single during his stint.  Watkins retired six straight on 23 pitches in two more innings, before the Ponies got another two-out, ninth-inning, pinch-hit single.
Salazar, who has hit in 9 of his last 10 games (14/30, .467), knocked in runs for a 5th game in his last six.  His 3-for-3 night and four RBI matched individual season highs from the March 1 non-conference game against Indian Hills CC, Ia.
Salazar’s two-run double off Panola’s Miguel Ausua highlighted a three-run Navarro seventh as the Bulldogs padded a 6-5 lead.
Luis Trevino and Alex Samples each contributed two hits, two runs and an RBI in Navarro’s 13-hit attack off four Ponies’ pitchers.
Trevino now is 23 for his last 47 with 5-17-0 and 22 runs scored during that timeframe.  He carries a 17-game hitting streak into the Saturday doubleheader, plus hits in 36 of the last 37 games he’s played.
Samples cut Panola’s lead to 5-3 in the third inning with a single to rightfield. The Bulldogs’ third baseman now is 23 for his last 52 with 24 RBI and 19 runs scored during that streak. He’s hit safely in 10 of 12 games and 19 of his last 23.
Navarro         012 210 300 — 9-13-2
Panola           230 000 000 — 5- 7-1
W: Geisel.  L: Cuevas
HR: P – McKinney, Price
LOB: N – 9.  P – 5.
Thursday’s Scores
Navarro 9, Panola 5
Bossier Parish 10, Northeast 6
Friday’s Game
Paris at Angelina, 3 pm
Saturday Doubleheaders
Panola at Navarro, 1 pm
Paris at Angelina, 1 pm
Northeast at Bossier Parish, 1 pm