By MIKE MONTFORT —
LUFKIN — Navarro baseball scored a dramatic, extra-inning victory in Game 1 Sunday, settled for a doubleheader split with Angelina and the East Zone leaders continued their rhythmic best-of-three weekend series wins — this time, from the Roadrunners.
Coach Matt Podjenski’s Bulldogs (23-17/13-5) maintained their two-game spread over Northeast Texas and Panola as the rain-delayed first series of the second half concluded Sunday. NC now has won all six of its conference series this season — the last four in 2-of-3 fashion (BPCC, Panola, NTCC and Angelina, for a second time since March 1).
Navarro posted a 3-0, 10-inning win over the Roadrunners in Game 1 as pitchers Paul Dickens and Pepper Jones combined on a four-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts. Derek Mueller’s two-run double off AC reliever Hagan Hartman broke a scoreless pitching duel, and Scott Hastings later added an insurance run by hoisting his team-high 11th sacrifice fly that plated Mueller.
Dickens and righthander Lance Lusk locked up in a superb pitching duel — the league’s longest double shutout of the season — but neither figured in the decision. Dickens, the southpaw who will play at Baylor next season, threw 96 pitches, allowed three hits and struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings. Lusk matched Dickens’ seven scoreless with 102 pitches, allowed five hits and fanned six.
The teams combined for 11 hits and stranded a total of 16 runners (Navarro 9, Angelina 7).
Angelina salvaged one game from the series with a 7-1 decision in the seven-inning nightcap behind the pitching of righthander Sean Bergeron and three-RBI game from shortstop Hayden Baker.
Bergeron scattered seven hits during 6.2 innings, while Baker delivered a two-run double during a five-run fourth inning and also slugged a one-out, solo home run in the sixth.
The Roadrunners touched NC starter Cole Wesneski for a first-inning run as rightfielder Alec Paz drew a bases-loaded walk that scored Dylan Murphy.
SUNDAY’S DOUBLEHEADER: Game 2
Navarro 000 010 1 — 2-7-0
Angelina 100 500 X — 7-7-0
W: Bergeron. L: Wesneski.
HR: AC – Baker.
SUNDAY’S DOUBLEHEADER: Game 1
Navarro 000 000 000 3 — 3-7-0
Angelina 000 000 000 0 — 0-4-0
W: Pepper Jones. L: Hagan Hartman.
Navarro 4, Angelina 2
Righthander Austin Faith pitched five-hit shutout ball for eight innings and struck out nine as the Bulldogs took Game 1 from the Roadrunners at Perry D. Graham Field.
Navarro collected a total of 12 hits — all singles — off three Angelina pitchers. NC scored twice in the fifth off starter Jarod Sprinkle and added single runs in the sixth and eighth innings.
Consecutive singles in the fifth by Cardoza-Oquendo, Bechtold, Ragan and Hastings produced Navarro’s first two runs of the game.
The Bulldogs added a third run in the sixth inning as Sprinkle’s error enabled Wood to reach safely on a bunt that followed consecutive singles by Landers and Menchaca
Bechtold’s eighth-inning fielders choice groundout removed Cardoza-Oquendo from the basepath at second, but enabled Mueller to score an insurance run.
Closer Asher Cook got into a bases-loaded jam with one out in the ninth, gave up run-scoring singles to Alec Paz and Brett Mugavero, but shut the door as catcher Sam Gotlieb lined into a 4-3 double play. Wood snagged the liner and fired to Hastings in time to get Mugavero.
Navarro 4, Angelina 2
Angelina 000 000 002 – 2-8-3 (LOB 7)
Navarro 000 021 01X – 4-12-0 (LOB 12)
W: Faith. L: Sprinkle
REGION XIV EAST ZONE BASEBALL SCORES
Make-Up Doubleheaders Sunday
Navarro 3-2, Angelina 0-7 (1st Game, 10 innings)
Northeast 8-4, BPCC 1-6
Panola 9-7, Paris 8-0