There was a lot to like about Navarro’s Opening Day game against McLennan Friday afternoon.
Just not the final score, 5-3.
The Bulldogs fell just short, losing at home on a grey, cold day when McLennan’s Chris Roller belted a three-run homer in the top of the eighth to break up a 2-2 tie and make a winner out of reliever Kyrell Miller. Josh Breaux picked up the save as the 16th-ranked Highlanders are off and rolling at 5-0.
In addition to the three-run homer, Roller drilled a two-out, second-inning, run-scoring triple. Australian George Callil’s double plated MCC’s first run.
Forget the head start McLennan might have. It’s a long season, and Navarro showed a lot of heart early and late when the Bulldogs threaten in the eighth and ninth before falling short.
They left the bases loaded in the eighth, and when Robert Salazar led off the ninth with a double off the left field wall and Josh Ragan walked, there was the buzz in the dugout and among the crowd that a comeback was in the making. Salazar scored on a balk, but Ragan was stranded.
Corsicana’s Layton Wolver, a two-time Daily Sun All-Golden Circle Player of the Year, made his debut with the Dawgs and showed why he will be so valuable.
Wolver walked three times, put down a bunt single, raced from first to third on a wild pickoff throw and scored a run.
And he did something he did every night at Price Field while playing shortstop for the Tigers —he made a phenomenal play, diving on the right side of second base for the play of the game.
Get used to it, Navarro fans, that’s what Wolver is all about, hustle and a no-quit love for the game.
Matt Wood led off the third with a single and Wolver followed with a bunt single before Salazar delivered a one-out RBI single to get the Dawgs on the board. Wolver raced to third on the wild pickoff throw and scored on Matt Munoz’s sacrifice fly.
Tate Gillespie started and went five innings and Brandon Ivey pitched the final four and took the loss on a day that started a season the Bulldogs believe will be memorable.
Friday, Feb. 3
Perry D. Graham Field, Corsicana
McLennan 5, Navarro 3
McLennan 002 000 030 — 5-9-1
Navarro 002 000 001 — 3-5-0
MCC – Bailey Horn (5), Kyrell Miller, Connor Heffron (8), Palmer Wenzel (8), Josh Breaux (9) and Nic Motley. NC – Tate Gillespie (5), Brandon Ivey and Braden Williams. WP: Miller. LP: Ivey. Sv: Breaux. Leading hitters — MCC: Chris Roller (2/4, 3B, HR, 4 RBI) and George Callil (3/3, 2B, RBI); NC: Robert Salazar (2/5, 2B, RBI) and Matt Munoz (0-5, SF, RBI). Records: MCC 5-0; NC 0-1.
SATURDAY / McLennan 5-4, Navarro 4-3
WACO — The unbeaten Highlanders swept a pair of one-run decisions 5-4 and 4-3 to run their winning streak to seven, while Navarro suffered its third loss.
The Highlanders defeated the Bulldogs 5-4 in game one with Nathan Gonzales getting the win and Chandler Cannon getting the save.
McLennan’s Cole Haring hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second to begin the scoring.
The Highlanders added two runs in the third. Mario Vela was safe at first on a Navarro error and Chris Roller doubled. Both runners scored on a single by Brendan Venter.
The Bulldogs tied the game with three runs in the fourth. Francisco DeJesus led off with a double and Robert Salazar singled. Josh Ragan singled to score DeJesus and Colin Chaney walked. Braden Williams then singled to score Salazar.
McLennan took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Jackson Nichols singled, stole second, moved to third on a Navarro error and scored on another Bulldog error that put Joe Breaux on first.
Salazar hit a solo home run for Navarro in the fifth to round out the scoring.
The Highlanders needed an extra inning to defeat the Bulldogs 4-3 in the nightcap with Hunter Spaeth getting the win.
McLennan scored one run in the third as Keaton Milford walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Roller.
The Highlanders added a run in the fourth a Josh Breaux singled, moved to second on a single by Griffin Paxton, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice by Griffin Williams and scored on a sacrifice by Nick Thornquist.
Navarro took the lead with three runs in the fifth. Beau Orlando singled and Matt Wood drew a walk. Orlando moved to third on error by the Highlanders’ catcher. Munoz singled to score Orlando and Wood scored on a ground out by Tim Bechtold. Munoz then scored on a single by Derek Mueller.
McLennan tied the game with Venter’s solo home run in the sixth.
The winning run came in the bottom of the eighth inning as Roller singled, moved to second on a single by Venter, advanced to third on a sacrifice by Josh Breaux and scored on single by Haring.
Saturday, Feb. 4
Bosque River Ballpark, Waco
McLennan 5, Navarro 4
Navarro 000 310 0 – 4 7 4
McLennan 012 200 x – 5 4 1
Ivan Ulloa, Eric Sandoz (3), Dalton Blake (5), Asher Cook (6) and Braden Williams. Jase Embry, Nathan Gonzales (4), Chandler Cannon (7) and Jackson Nichols. WP: Gonzales; LP: Sandoz; SV: Cannon. Leading hitters – Navarro: Francisco De’Jesus (1-3, 2B), Robert Salzar (3-4, HR, RBI) and Braden Williams (1-3, RBI); McLennan: Mario Vela (1-3, HR, RBI), Chris Roller (1-3, 2B), Brendan Venter (1-3, 2 RBI), Cole Haring (1-3, HR, RBI) and Joe Breaux (0-2, RBI). Record: McLennan 6-0; Navarro 0-2.
McLennan 4, Navarro 3
Navarro 000 030 00 – 3 5 0
McLennan 001 101 01 – 4 9 1
Gary Watkins, Brady Mehl (6), Mark Geisel (6) and Beau Orlando. Logan Freeman, Jason Blanchard (5), Hunter Spaeth (8) and Nick Thornquist. WP: Spaeth; LP: Geisel. Leading hitters – Navarro: Matt Munoz (1-4, RBI), Colin Chaney (1-3, 2B), Tim Bechtold (0-3, RBI) and Derek Mueller (1-2, RBI); McLennan: Chris Roller (2-4, RBI), Brendan Venter (2-4, HR, RBI), Griffin Paxton (2-3, 2B), Nick Thornquist (0-2, RBI) and Cole Haring (1-1, RBI). Record: McLennan 7-0; Navarro 0-3.