Blue skies, sunshine and a lights out bullpen …
Welcome to opening day for the Navarro Bulldogs, who took their first steps into the 2018 season Friday afternoon at home with a 6-5 victory over No. 24 Weatherford.
“It’s something to build on,” said Navarro coach Matt “Pudge” Podjenski, who liked just about everything he saw from his team. “We played really good defense and pitched well at times, and our bullpen did a real good job.”
The Bulldogs got hits up and down the lineup and built a 5-1 lead. Right fielder Josh Ragan had a double and a triple and drove in two runs to lead the way along with catcher Beau Orlando, who had a big two-out, two RBI hit for the Dawgs.
“We had a lot of good at-bats and our lineup put a lot of pressure on them,” Podjenski said. “And we forced the issue on the bases, which I really like.”
Podjenski started freshman right hander Cole Wesneski, who struck out four in three innings of work. Middle reliever Ryan Johnston picked up the win, followed by Johnny Panatex for three innings and closer Asher Cook.
Panatex worked a scoreless, hitless two-and-two thirds innings before five Weatherford batters reached safely as the Coyotes scored twice and pulled within 6-5.
Cook couldn’t have had a better first outing in gaining his first save. He took care of business in the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning, striking out right fielder Anthony Ramirez and pinch-hitter Connor Emmet. Corsicana’s Jackson Kennemore, a defensive replacement in centerfield for the Coyotes, grounded out to shortstop Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo to end the game.
The Bulldogs travel to Weatherford Saturday for a 2 pm doubleheader at Roger Williams Ballpark.
“This is a real good start,” Podjenski said of opening day. It will help build our confidence. It’s something to build on.”