Baseball seeks outright East title from series with NTCC

Baseball seeks outright East title from series with NTCC


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—  Someone heard a light scratching on the door Saturday evening.

Upon closer investigation, the marks looked like those of a Bulldog that was ready to break over the threshold and return inside for its comforts.

That was the story Saturday at Graham Field where Navarro split a doubleheader, won another weekend series 2-1, but was left to wait at the doorstep of a third Region XIV East Zone Championship in four seasons under coach Matt Podjenski.

NCPANBB1Combined with Northeast Texas’ weekend sweep of Angelina, the Bulldogs know they have clinched no worse than a tie for the conference crown.  That’s a good feeling heading into the final series of the regular season.  It could, however, turn into a great feeling next weekend as the Bulldogs battle the only obstacle in their way — their only remaining zone contender, NTCC.

Weather permitting, Navarro (32-20/20-7) is scheduled to host NTCC (32-18/17-10) for a 3 pm single-game Thursday at Perry D. Graham Field.  The teams are scheduled to wrap up the regular season with a 1 pm Saturday doubleheader at Eagle Field in Mount Pleasant.

Navarro’s captured every best-of-three weekend series it has played during conference this spring. Against Northeast at the end of March, the Bulldogs swept a 7-2, 9-1 Friday doubleheader from the Eagles in Corsicana before dropping an 8-2 decision in a Saturday single game at Mount Pleasant.

NCPANBB2Against Panola here Saturday, the Bulldogs struggled during their “Sophomore Day” doubleheader split and saw their season-best, nine-game winning streak come to an end.  NC, which had scored double-digit runs in six of their last seven games, managed a combined 15 hits in the twinbill and just three extra-base hits.  Meanwhile, the Bulldogs used four pitchers in each game.  Combined, they threw a total of 360 pitches, walked 18, hit two batters and stranded 21 Panola baserunners.

Panola 13, Navarro 9
Despite five errors, the Ponies salvaged one game from the weekend set as Christian Boulware slugged his 15th home run of the season — a three-run shot in the third inning that gave the Ponies  a 4-2 lead.

The Bulldogs rallied for a 9-5 lead after four innings, but the Ponies scored a total of nine runs over the course of four consecutive innings, while winning reliever Garret Hermes worked five innings of two-hit shutout ball.

Starting pitcher Cole Wesneski labored through 93 pitches in 4.1 innings and gave up six earned runs. Trey Becerra, Tanner Riley and Johnny Panatex followed.

NCPANBB3Mason Holt slammed his sixth home run — a solo shot in the first inning — for one of his two hits in Game 2.  Josh Ragan tripled and scored a go-ahead run after a first-inning sacrifice fly.

Kyle Landers also collected a pair of base hits in four trips and knocked in four Navarro runs.

GAME 3 (Doubleheader Game 2)
Panola      103 042 120 — 13-13-5 (LOB 10)
Navarro   203 400 000 — 9-  7-2 (LOB 3)
WP: Garret Hermes.  LP: Tanner Riley.
HR — PC: Christian Boulware (15).  NC: Mason Holt (6).

Navarro 6, Panola 5
Ragan’s fifth-inning sacrifice fly proved to be the difference and the Bulldogs stopped a Panola rally as sophomore closer Asher Cook nailed down his eighth save of the season.

Trailing 6-5, Panola got two runners aboard with one out in the seventh, but Cook got shortstop Logan Berlof to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play (Cardoza-Oquendo-Wood-Hastings) to end the game.  It marked the third time in the seven-inning game that a double play quashed a Panola rally.

Noah Menchaca’s two-run triple gave NC its first runs as the Bulldogs bounced out to a 4-0 lead behind starter Paul Dickens.

Dickens gave way after three innings to Pepper Jones, who struck out five in two-and-two-thirds innings and claimed the win in relief.

GAME 2 (Doubleheader Game 1)
Panola       002 111 0 — 5-7-1 (LOB 11)
Navarro    040 020 X — 6-8-1 (LOB 2)
WP: Pepper Jones.  LP. Jarret Whorff.  Sv: Cook.

GAME 1 (Thursday at Carthage)
Navarro 14, Panola 1 (5 innings)
Ragan and catcher Beau Orlando combined for seven hits in seven at-bats and drove in eight runs to back the four-hit pitching of route-going right hander Austin Faith.  Navarro bashed 12 hits and scored runs in each of the first four frames.

GAME 1 (at Carthage)
Navarro 14, Panola 1 (5 innings)
Navarro      243 50 — 14-12-1 (LOB 7)
Panola        010 00 —   1-  4-0 (LOB 9)
WP: Austin Faith.  LP: Chris Henderson.

As of Sunday, April 29
Team              All            Conf     GB

Navarro           32-20        20-7       —
Northeast       32-18         17-10        3
Panola             33-18        15-12        5
Angelina         25-22        13-14        7
BPCC              17-27           8-17       11
Paris               19-31           8-19       12

Navarro  6-9, Panola 5-13
Northeast 7-11, Angelina 0-8
Bossier Parish 6-8, Paris 4-6

Northeast at Navarro, 3 pm
Bossier Parish at Panola, 3 pm

Angelina at Paris, 3 pm

Navarro at Northeast, 1 pm
Panola at Bossier Parish, 1 pm
Paris at Angelina, 1 pm

BASEBALL PHOTO GALLERY LINK:     Keith’s Sports Photos on Facebook