By MIKE MONTFORT —
GRAND PRAIRIE — Sophomore Francisco Dejesus hit his sixth home run of the year and drove in three runs Saturday to power the Navarro Bulldogs to a 5-3 Region XIV Baseball Tournament opening win over the Alvin Dolphins.
Coach Matt Podjenski’s Bulldogs (29-23-1) advance to an 8 pm Sunday winner’s bracket matchup against San Jacinto (40-16) here at AirHog Stadium. San Jacinto, top-seeded from the South Zone, advanced late Saturday night by defeating the Paris Dragons, 11-5.
Dejesus led off the bottom of the eighth Saturday with an opposite-field solo home run off Alvin starting and losing pitcher Noah Sills (10-3) and gave the Bulldogs a 5-1 advantage. Dejesus drilled a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the first inning that gave Navarro a quick 2-0 lead it never relinquished.
Sophomore lefthander Brandon Ivey, making only his fifth start of the year, worked five innings and got credit for the pitching victory. Reliever Johnny Panatex pitched three-and-one-third critical innings and Mark Geisel once and for all ended a Dolphin rally by nailing down the final two outs for a save.
Ivey’s first start since February 25 occurred during the Panola doubleheader at Carthage last week. He went three innings in a loss. He started three non-conference games in February, working 4.1 innings against Baton Rouge CC, 5.1 in the 6-6 tie at Alvin and 5 innings in a win over New Mexico JC.
The Bulldogs staked him to a 4-0 lead heading into the sixth. The lefthander had yielded three hits, four walks and struck out four in 87 pitches, but ACC tagged him with three straight hits to open the sixth and prompt his removal.
Alvin rightfielder Ryan Benavides led off the sixth with his team-leading 12th home run of the season to break the shutout. Catcher Garrett Gray belted a double and leftfielder TJ Alexander singled to left, leaving runners on the corners with no out.
Enter Panatex, who induced flyball outs deep enough to centerfielder Matt Munoz and leftfielder Tim Bechtold that should have scored Gray, but he remained at third base. Panatex then struck out shortstop Alan Campero looking at a 3-2 pitch to end the rally.
In the ninth when Panatex was beginning his fourth inning of work with a 5-1 lead, Alvin loaded the bases and pushed across its final two runs to make things interesting for Geisel.
Leading 2-0 after 1, Navarro used more two-out rallies to score single runs in the second and fourth innings.
Rightfielder Josh Ragan drilled a 1-2 pitch for a single that plated Noah Menchaca, who earlier had doubled in the second. In the fourth, Ragan doubled on an 0-1 offering to centerfield that enabled Matt Munoz to score from first base.
SCORE BY INNINGS:
Alvin 000 001 002 — 3-10-0 (11 LOB)
Navarro 210 100 01x — 5-9-0 (7 LOB)
WP – Ivey. LP – Sills. Sv. Geisel.
HR: NC – Dejesus (6). ACC – Benavides (12)
REGION XIV BASEBALL TOURNAMENT / Day 1
Angelina 7, Galveston 2
Navarro 5, Alvin 3
Panola 12, Blinn 2 (6 innings)
San Jacinto 11, Paris 5
REGION XIV BASEBALL TOURNAMENT / Sunday
Galveston v Blinn, 10 am
Paris v Alvin, 1 pm
Panola v Angelina, 5 pm
Navarro v San Jacinto, 8 pm
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