15 May Bulldogs advance to championship game
By MIKE MONTFORT —
BEAUMONT — Navarro moved into Wednesday’s 5 pm Region XIV Tournament Championship game by defeating Panola, 5-2, Tuesday at Vincent-Beck Stadium.
Coach Matt Podjenski’s Bulldogs (37-16) will play the survivor of a 1 pm elimination bracket game between Blinn and Panola for the championship of the double-elimination tournament.
Should tournament-unbeaten Navarro win Wednesday, it would be crowned as NJCAA Southern District Champions and would earn one of the 10 qualifying berths for the Alpine Bank JUCO World Series at Grand Junction, Col.
Navarro has won three straight in the tournament, eight games in a row overall, 11 of its 12 and 15 of its last 17 to charge into the championship game. The Bulldogs are looking for their fourth all-time World Series appearance (1958, 2011 NJCAA Championship, and 2013) and first under Podjenski.
The Bulldogs broke a scoreless battle during the middle innings and opened up a 5-0 lead. Jose Gonzalez collected three hits in his first trips to the plate Wednesday and knocked in two runs with a double and a single.
Gonzalez, 10-for-13 at the plate over five games, cracked a first-pitch single to left that scored Cash Rugely with the game’s first run in the fourth inning. Rugely had popped his 13th double of the season down the right field line.
Navarro added two more against Panola’s losing starter Tyler Davis. Wesley Powell’s single to centerfield Gonzalez home. Later, Mason Holt walked on a 3-2, two-out pitch with the bases loaded to score Dawson Woods from third.
The Gonzalez-Rugely combination produced again in the fifth. Gonzalez pounded a double off the base of the right field wall that plated Rugely, who had a one-out single.
Navarro righthander Austin Faith claimed the pitching victory with six innings of work. Tanner Riley worked two frames, wriggling out of problems in the seventh and eighth.
Sophomore Pepper Jones threw 11 pitches to retire the Ponies in order and secure his NC single-season record ninth save.
SCORE BY INNINGS………..R-H-E (LOB)
Navarro……000 311 000 –5-9-3 (LOB 10)
Panola…….000 002 00- –2-6-1 (LOB 10)
W: Austin Faith. L: Tyler Davis. Sv: Pepper Jones (9).
2B: Jose Gonzalez, Cash Rugely
TB: Stacey Bailey, Jose Gonzalez 4, Mason Holt, Wesley Powell 2, Cash Rugely 3
RBI: Jose Gonzalez 2, Mason Holt, Kyle Landers, Wesley Powell
SAC: Travis Washburn
ROE: Wesley Powell
FC: Stacey Bailey
HBP: Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo
SB: Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo, Jose Gonzalez, Mason Holt, Wesley Powell
NC — Austin Faith, Tanner Riley (7), Pepper Jones (9).
PC — Tyler Davis, Trey Lindsay (4), Nate Sewell (9)
T-4: Navarro draws first blood as torrid DH Jose Gonzalez hit a first-pitch single to leftfield that scores Rugely from second base. Rugely had popped his 13th double of the season down the right field line with one out. Powell singles in Navarro’s second run. Holt walks on a 3-2 with the bases loaded, scoring Woods. (NC, 3-0)
T-5: Gonzalez lashes a double off the right field wall that scores Rugely and the Bulldogs lead, 4-0. Rugely hit a one-out single to CF before Gonzalez uncoiled for his third hit of the game. (NC, 4-0)
T-6: NC uses a two-out rally to score another run. Mason Holt reaches on an infield hit, steals second base and moves to third as the throw to second glances into the outfield. Landers reaches safely on a dropped third strike, and the wild pitch enables Holt to score. (NC, 5-0)
B-6: Beltran and Stevens reach with one-out singles. With runners on the corners and two out, pinch-hitter Chris Collet singled to drive in one run. A misplay enabled Stevens to come around with the second run. (NC, 5-2)
B-7: * Huge 2-3-2 double play gets Navarro out of trouble. (2-3 strikeout, and 3-2 coming home to catch Kade Clemens trying to score from third base)
2B Travis Washburn
CF Mason Holt
1B Kyle Landers
3B Stacey Bailey
SS Cash Rugely
DH Jose Gonzalez
C Dawson Woods
LF Kyle Hawkins
RF Wesley Powell
(P Austin Faith)
SS Cameron Sibley
LF Kade Clemens
3B Austin Bost
DH Trent Touchet
1B Rafael LeBlanc
2B Marco Beltran
RF Jeremy Stevens
C Ryan Snell
CF Chase Hodges
(P Tyler Davis)