By MIKE MONTFORT —
BOSSIER, La. — Navarro baseball battled to gain a doubleheader split Saturday with Bossier Parish, but the Bulldogs won the best-of-three series and remained firmly entrenched in a first-place tie with Northeast Texas in the Region XIV East Zone race.
Coach Matt Podjenski’s Bulldogs improved to 15-13 overall and 7-2 in East Zone play with a late second-game rush for an 11-1 win on the heels of a stunning 11-7 first-game loss.
In the nightcap victory, Navarro broke open a 4-1 game with two eighth-inning runs and five more in the top of the ninth. In the seven-inning Game 1, BPCC stormed back from a 5-0 third-inning deficit and shocked the Bulldogs with a seven-run fifth inning that secured the Cavaliers’ first East Zone win.
The overriding story of Navarro’s 2-1 series win was the offensive heroics of sophomore rightfielder Josh Ragan. In three games, Ragan went 7-for-12 (.583) in 14 plate appearances against Cavalier pitching. Unsolveable for the weekend, the Irving Nimitz product walked twice, hit two singles, two doubles, three home runs, drove in six runs and scored seven. He hit home runs in each of the three games, raising his team-leading season total to seven.
In Saturday’s nightcap, winning righthander starter Brady Mehl made a two-run home run by second baseman Kalen Hammer stand up for a 2-1 lead, and bullpen mates Collin Storms, Johnny Panatex and Asher Cook combined to throw one-hit ball — shortstop Jordan Szush’s two-out, seventh-inning double — over the final five innings. The four Bulldog pitchers pieced together 12 strikeouts during their combined five-hitter.
Hammer, the younger brother of former Bulldog and current Philadelphia Phillies’ pitching prospect JD Hammer, drilled a two-out, first home run of the season over the centerfield wall. Kyle Jones appeared to make a catch as he crashed into the fence, but the ball popped out and over, giving Navarro a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
DH Kyle Landers doubled home a run in the fifth to reclaim a two-run lead (3-1). First baseman Scott Hastings, who went 4-for-6 in Game 2, ripped a two-out, run-scoring single in the sixth to make it 4-1.
In the eighth, Ragan padded the lead when he crushed a two-run home run deep into the woods beyond the leftfield fence.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Navarro 000 211 025 — 11-11-1
Bossier Parish 000 100 000 — 1-5-3
WP: Mehl. LP: Tanner Johnson.
HR – NC: Hammer (1); Ragan (7).
Records: NC 15-13 / 7-2. BPCC: 7-18 / 1-8.
Saturday: Game 1
BPCC 11, NAVARRO 7 (7 innings)
Centerfielder Kyle Jones homered and knocked in four runs while left fielder Gavin Pelletier drilled a bases-clearing triple during the seven-run fifth inning.
BPCC tagged relievers Tanner Riley and Pepper Jones during the comeback for their first conference win. Navarro lefthanded starter Paul Dickens departed after four innings and 62 pitches with a 7-3 lead. He was no-decisoned in his bid to claim a fifth straight pitching victory.
Navarro scored in each of the first four innings off lefthander Will Hine. Ragan slammed a two-out solo home run in the fist inning. Designated hitter Zion Mayberry’s second-inning sacrifice fly to centerfield allowed Noah Menchaca to score the Bulldogs’ second run. Ragan’s double and Beau Orlando’s single keyed a three-run third inning.
SCORE BY INNINGS:
Navarro 113 200 0 — 7-7-1 (LOB 2)
Bossier Parish 002 171 X — 11-11-2 (LOB 2)
W: Will Hine. L: Tanner Riley
HR: NC — Ragan (6). BPCC: K. Jones (3), Aaron Shepard (1).
Records — NC 14-13 / 6-2. BPCC 7-17 / 1-7
Friday: Game 1
NAVARRO 12, BPCC 1 (5 innings)
The Bulldogs scored in each of the first three innings against three Cavalier pitchers, including seven runs strung together by seven consecutive hits in the third inning.
Josh Ragan reached base safely four times, went 3-for-3 at the plate with a run-scoring double and his fifth home run of the season – a one-out solo shot to left field in the fifth inning that accounted for the Bulldogs final run.
Winning right-handed starter Austin Faith threw 68 pitches and hurled one-hit ball for five innings. Faith walked four and struck out four, allowing only a second-inning single by shortstop Willie Ward when BPCC scored its run. A bases-loaded fielder’s choice ground out by first Jake Ryan delivered the Cavaliers’ only run, but the rally was extinguished when Faith turned a Ty Dragos comebacker into a 1-6-3, inning-ending double play.
In the decisive third, Navarro slapped eight hits off relievers Aaron Shepard and Ethan Maxey. NC had seven consecutive hits – six off reliever Shepard, and he was replaced before retiring a batter. Designated hitter Kyle Landers cracked two singles in the inning. NC had run-scoring doubles from Ragan and Noah Menchaca, plus RBI-singles from Matt Wood and Mason Holt, and Scott Hastings’ sacrifice fly.
SCORE BY INNINGS:
Navarro 137 01 — 12-14-0
Bossier Parish 010 00 — 1- 1-0
W: Faith. L: McDermott.
HR: N – Josh Ragan (5). 2B – Scott Hastings, Mason Holt, Matt Wood, Josh Ragan, Noah Menchaca.
Records: Navarro 14-12 / 6-1. BPCC 6-16 / 0-7
SATURDAY’S REGION XIV EAST ZONE BASEBALL SCORES (March 17, 2018)
Navarro 7-11, Bossier Parish 11-1
Northeast Texas 3-0, Paris 2-4
Panola 10-17, Angelina 7-7
REGION XIV EAST ZONE STANDINGS
After Games Saturday, March 17, 2018
TEAM ALL CONF
Northeast 16-7 7-2
Navarro 15-13 7-2
Panola 19-9 5-4
Angelina 13-12 4-5
Paris 12-15 3-6
Bossier Parish 7-17 1-8