BY MIKE MONTFORT —
Grayson’s Westyn Swenson hit a one-out, two-run homer in the top of the 13th while the Vikings stranded Navarro’s potential game-tying run at third base in the home half of the inning and escaped with a 6-5 non-conference win at Graham Field.
Coach Dusty Hart’s Vikings (5-3) won their third game in their last four outings, including a best-of-three series win at home last weekend over San Jacinto. Coach Matt Podjenski’s Bulldogs slipped to a 2-7-1 reading, heading into this weekend’s four-game non-conference series here with the New Mexico Junior College Thunderbirds.
Grayson, picked second behind McLennan in the Region V Northern Junior College Athletic Conference (NTJCAC) Preseason poll, rallied from 3-0 and 4-3 deficits Wednesday to deny the Bulldogs.
Swenson broke a 4-4 deadlock in the 13th by drilling a two-run homer off sophomore righthander Dalton Blake, Navarro’s fifth pitcher.
Freshman pitcher Taylor Floyd, who worked three innings of three-hit relief with three strikeouts, benefitted from the go-ahead home run and wriggled out of a 13th-inning jam to secure the victory.
Navarro drew blood in the first inning when shortstop Matt Wood led off with a walk and later scored on Robert Salazar’s sacrifice fly to centerfield. Wood went 3-for-5 at the plate against five Grayson pitchers and scored two runs.
Wood’s two-out, second-inning single to right field brought home catcher Braden Williams with Navarro’s second run. Williams started the frame with a full-count walk off lefthander starter Gabe Constantine, and advanced to second on a balk. Constantine endured a streak of wildness and was removed from the game after loading the bases with two out.
Salazar, who knocked in three runs on an 0-for-4 afternoon, plated Navarro’s third run of the game when he was hit by reliever Slater Foust’s pitch with the bases loaded.
Starter Gary Watkins worked six innings for Navarro, gave up only five hits and one earned run during an 80-pitch effort.
Grayson nicked away with single runs in three consecutive innings, using run-scoring singles from catcher Andrew Miller in the sixth and from outfielder Jared Viracola to tie the game in the seventh.
NC regained a 4-3 lead in its eighth when Salazar again was hit by a pitch with two out and the bases loaded.
Freshman closer Asher Cook was greeted by one-out, ninth-inning singles by Brady Manning and Viracola, putting runners on the corners. Braydon Webb’s sacrifice fly to left delivered Grayson’s tying run.
Five Grayson pitchers worked the 13-inning game. Four relievers yielded two earned runs in 11.1 innings and combined for 13 strikeouts. Foust replaced Constantine and went 4.1 innings of three-hit shutout relief and fanned seven.
Navarro faces NMJC’s Thunderbirds in consecutive doubleheaders Friday and Saturday at Graham Field. NC claimed its first win of the year on February 12 at The University of Houston when it rallied from a six-run, first-inning deficit for a 7-6 victory over the T-Birds. After an 0-4 start, NMJC’s won four of its last five games and went 3-1 in its most recent four-game series against Trinidad State JC, Col.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Grayson 000 011 101 000 2 – 6-11-1
Navarro 120 000 010 000 1 – 5- 9-1
WP: Floyd. LP: Blake. BSv: Cook.