Champion Bulldogs return to JUCO in GJ

Champion Bulldogs return to JUCO in GJ

By MIKE MONTFORT  —

BEAUMONT — Navarro Baseball will return to The Alpine Bank JUCO World Series at Grand Junction, Col., May 25-June 1.

For the first time since 2013, the Bulldogs will return with ‘NJCAA Southern District Champions’ and ‘Region XIV Tournament Champions’ as well as ‘Eastern Conference Champions’ emblazoned across their bursting-with-pride chests.

Champions.  Repetitious wording in the second paragraph, but oh-so-fitting.  And they wear it well.

Navarro (38-16) continued its post-season march Wednesday by drilling South Zone second-seed Blinn, 14-7, to complete an unbeaten, four-game sweep through the rain-delayed, double-elimination tournament.

Since the meet started Sunday, it’s been nothing but blue skies and sunny days for Navarro.  The Bulldogs scored 43 runs on 49 hits during just 31 innings of play, shortened by two run-ruled contests.  Bound now for Grand Junction, their bus is packed with momentum and confidence as the accelerator is pressed to the floorboard.

Wednesday at Vincent-Beck Stadium, the Bulldogs broke the game open in the top of the ninth when they batted around during their farewell tour, clubbed five hits and scored six runs.  Consecutive two-run doubles by Kyle Hawkins and Wesley Powell highlighted the onslaught that gave NC a 14-4 advantage.

Eastern Conference Player of the Year Cash Rugely (.409) had a fifth-inning solo home run among his two hits, scored twice and drove in three runs to pace Navarro’s 13-hit attack.

Locals Stacey Bailey and Dawson Woods went two-for-five at the plate, scored twice and knocked in runs.

Bailey drove in his 64th run of the season in the first inning with a base hit to centerfield that plated Mason Holt, who had bunted for a one-out base hit, stole second, and moved to third on catcher error.

Holt went two-for-four, walked twice, and knocked in a run.

Kyle Landers drove in two of Navarro’s first five runs in support of Corsicana righthander Corbin Hall, who drew the Tournament Championship Game start and fulfilled the opportunity by giving a season-long-matching four solid innings of work to earn the victory.

Hall (2-0) had pitched 21.2 innings over 12 appearances this season, but threw 14 of those innings in four effective starts since April 22, giving up only eight hits and two earned runs.

Hall yielded only two hits and one earned run through a 71-pitch outing Wednesday, but Collin Storms and Colin Wyman helped to finish it up.

The 15th ranked Bulldogs will be making their fourth all-time world series appearance (1958, 2011 NJCAA Champions, 2013, and now, 2019, the first under head coach Matt Podjenski). Navarro’s won nine in a row, 12 of 13, and 16 of its last 18 games.

NC plays its first-round game at GJ against Gulf District winner Chipola (38-18).  Two-time NJCAA Champion Chipola, 16th-ranked in the final regular-season poll, defeated Northwest Florida State in a three-game series at Lakeland, Fl., to qualify.

Navarro and Chipola will play at high noon (MDT) in their Saturday, May 25 game at Sam Suplizio Field.
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FINAL: Navarro 14, Blinn 7
SCORE BY INNINGS…………R-H-E (LOB)
Navarro…..220 112 006 — 14-13-2 (LOB 7)
Blinn………000 210 103 — 7- 8-2 (LOB 7)
W: Corbin Hall. L: Jace Hutchins.
2B: Kyle Hawkins, Wesley Powell
HR: Cash Rugely
TB: Stacey Bailey 2, Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo, Jose Gonzalez, Kyle Hawkins 2, Mason Holt 2, Kyle Landers, Wesley Powell 2, Cash Rugely 5, Dawson Woods 2
RBI: Stacey Bailey, Kyle Hawkins 2, Mason Holt, Kyle Landers 3, Wesley Powell 2, Cash Rugely 3, Dawson Woods
SAC: Wesley Powell
SF: Cash Rugely
ROE: Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo
HBP: Wesley Powell, Cash Rugely
GIDP: Jose Gonzalez
SB: Mason Holt, Kyle Landers
CS: Kyle Landers

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PITCHERS:
BC: Jace Hutchins, Otto Stacey (2), Grayson Smith (6), John Chomko (7), AJ Irvin (9)
NC: Corbin Hall, Collin Storms (5), Colin Wyman (8)
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SCORING SUMMARY:
T-1: Holt bunts for a one-out base hit, steals second and moves to third on the catcher’s error. Bailey singles Holt home for the game’s first run and his 64th RBI of the season. Rugely follows with a run-coring single. (NC, 2-0).
T-2: Woods singles, Powell walks and Cardoza-Oquendo reaches safely on an error by the first baseman. The error allows Woods to score. Landers grounded out to second with the bases loaded, allowing Powell to cross home plate. (NC, 4-0)
T-4: Landers’ two-out, 0-2 single to leftfield drives home Hawkins with Navarro’s fifth run of the game. Hawkins opened with a walk and advanced to second on Powell’s sacrifice bunt. (NC, 5-0)
T-5: Cash Rugely opens the fifth by hitting Otto Stacey’s first pitch for his sixth home run of the season — a shot to left. (NC, 6-2)
T-6: Landers’ bases-loaded walk and Rugely’s sacrifice fly to right bring in two more runs. The inning started with Powell hit by a pitch, followed by consecutive bunt singles from Cardoza-Oquendo and Holt to load the bases. (NC, 8-3)
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BATTING ORDER
Blinn
2B Wesley Schields
LF Reggie McCalister
SS Cameron Gibbons
RF Gray Rodgers
1B Brett Minnich
3B Jake Miller
DH Nick Wolff
CF Blake Faecher
C Preston Hoffart
(P Jace Hutchins)

Navarro
2B Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo
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 Corbin Hall)