Playoffs hope alive as TC takes one from region champ
|By: Johnny Green - Texarkana Gazette -||Published: 04/24/2008|
There have no doubt been bigger wins in Texarkana College baseball history, but none that was needed more than the Bulldogs’ 7-6 victory over Navarro College in Wednesday’s second game at George Dobson Field.
Staff photo by Evan Lewis Navarro’s Kyle Livingstone slides in safe under the attempted tag by Texarkana College catcher Dean Malthouse in the third inning of the first game in Wednesday’s doubleheader. Navarro won the opener, 17-7, but Texarkana claimed the split, 7-6.
Battered 17-7 in the opener, TC survived the nightcap as closer Cody Hill put down a Navarro uprising in the ninth inning. Texarkana’s first win over the Region XIV East Zone champions allowed the Bulldogs to maintain a one-game lead over Panola for the final playoff berth with two games to play. Panola split a home doubleheader with third-place Bossier Parish.
“That was a big-time, gut-check win right there,” said a relieved TC coach Will Bolt. “That’s a win that can lead to many, many more in a row. I was proud of the way we battled after we couldn’t stop them in the first game.”
Right-hander Justin Fowler checked Navarro’s leading bats on eight hits, leaving with a 5-3 lead after six innings despite being struck on the wrist of his pitching arm by a first-inning line drive.
“I thought it was broken,” Fowler said. “I couldn’t even squeeze Coach’s hand. But I got on the sideline and threw some, and it loosened up.”
Fowler was denied the victory when Brett Parsons homered in the top of the seventh inning after Jason Chowning’s third-strike wild pitch allowed what would have been the third out to reach first base.
But Chowning, TC’s No. 1 starter, settled down and the Bulldogs regained the lead in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back doubles by Dean Malthouse and Thomas Watson. They made it 7-5 in the eighth when Justin Coats singled home Josh Gill, who had singled and moved to second on a sacrifice.
Navarro (43-8, 23-3) loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth, and Hill gave up a sacrifice fly to Ross Hubbard to make it a one-run game. But Hill picked off pinch runner Anthony Washington and struck out the next batter.
“Justin Fowler did an outstanding job; he’s come a long way,” Bolt said. “A prime example was when he was hit by the line drive. He never buckled a bit, and came out and attacked the strike zone. Chowning wanted the ball, and it wasn’t perfect for him, but he kept us in the game. And Hill never blinked on the rundown. He got it to the athlete (Coats) and let him run the runner down. It was just a great team win.”
The Bulldogs had 15 hits in the nightcap, including a solo home run and single by Coats and two doubles by Watson. Trey Buck, David Phillips, Gip Hendrix, Malthouse and Gill also had two hits. Parsons had four of Navarro’s 12 hits.
Texarkana made a game out of the opener, pulling within 9-7 in the fourth inning, but the Bulldog bullpen couldn’t slow Navarro’s relentless bats. The visiting Bulldogs scored eight unanswered runs to put the game out of reach.
Most of the damage was done by the long ball. Navarro hit five home runs, three of them by Scott Livingstone, who finished with eight runs batted in. Zach Grichor and Caleb Marx hit solo homers.
TC managed 12 hits, 11 off Navarro’s No. 1 starter Bryan Bingham, who still pitched five innings to improve to 11-0 on the season. Hendrix hit his sixth homer in the third inning and Phillips his 14th in the fourth, both with one runner aboard.
But the first game was all about Navarro’s bats. The Bulldogs cranked out 17 hits, including three each by Grichor, Livingstone, Hubbard and Marx.
TC starter Zach Fowler lasted just 3 2/3 innings and yielded eight runs, seven earned. Relievers Cody Wilson and Zach Gryder were treated similarly by NC’s torrid hitters. Coats tripled and singed twice in four at-bats to lead TC at the plate. Hendrix had a single to go with his home run, and Gill, who recently committed to play next year at Louisiana-Monroe, doubled twice, driving in a run.
The Bulldogs can clinch first-place by sweeping last-place Lon Morris on Saturday at home.
Navarro College 102 643 1 — 17 17 1
Texarkana College 004 300 0 — 7 12 2
Bryan Bingham, Jeff Thompson (6), Chad McIn (7) and Mark Mayfield. Zach Fowler, Cody Wilson (4), Zach Gryder (5) and Dean Malthouse. WP-Bingham (11-0). LP-Fowler (5-4). HR: NC-Zach Grichor, 3rd, none on;
Scott Livingstone, 4th, 2 on; Livingstone, 5th, 2 on; Livingstone, 6th, 1 on; Caleb Marx, 7th, none on. TC-Gip Hendrix (6), 3rd, 1 on; David Phillips (14), 4th 1 on.
Navarro College 020 010 201 — 6 12 1
Texarkana College 100 013 11x — 7 14 0
Travis Dirk, Brian Shore (6) and Jordan Kopycinski, Mark Mayfield (9). Justin Fowler, Jason Chowning (7), Cory Hill (9) and Dean Malthouse. WP-Chowning. LP-Shore.