Monday, May 12, 2008

Alvin hands 5-3 setback to Bulldogs

Alvin hands 5-3 setback to Bulldogs

MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas—Texarkana College kept offensive power Alvin College on the ropes most of the game, but the Bulldogs just couldn’t deliver the knockout punch.

The Dolphins, who entered the game with a hefty .363 team batting average, rallied late to post a come-from-behind 5-3 win over TC in opening-round action Saturday in the Region XIV baseball tournament.

The setback drops the Bulldogs (33-22) into the losers’ bracket, where they will play at 1 p.m. today against the loser of Saturday night’s late game matching nationally-ranked Navarro (45-8) and Blinn (24-25). The double-elimination tournament is being played at Bob Baker Field on the Northeast Texas Community College campus.

TC, the third seed from the North, was shutting down Alvin, the No. 2 seed from the South, 2-0, through 5 1/2 innings.

Designated hitter David Phillips figured in both of the Bulldogs’ runs. He smacked a two-out, opposite-field homer above the 15-foot wall in left field. It was his team-leading 19th round tripper of the season, tying TC’s all-time record set by slugger Reed Stewart in the 1980s. It also was his 64th RBI of the season.

Phillips led off the top of the sixth with another opposite-field blast that ricocheted off the bottom of the wall near the 309-foot sign. He ended up with a double. One out later, Dean Malthouse scored him with a sharp single up the middle for a 2-0 Bulldog lead.

“Our guys competed hard and played hard throughout the game,” said TC coach Will Bolt. “We got some key hits and we kept the pressure on them, but we let them stay close and we didn’t put them away.”

Bulldog pitcher Jason Chowning appeared in command, allowing only four singles through five innings. The Dolphins narrowed the score to 2-1 in the sixth with a leadoff walk, stolen base and two-out single by cleanup batter Chris Herrmann.

The Bulldogs stayed with the hard-throwing Chowning, a 6-foot-3 sophomore who has signed with the University of Oklahoma. It was his game to win or lose.

“Jason had 80 pitches entering the seventh inning, and we were going to keep the ball in his hands,” Bolt said. “He was pitching well and he deserved the chance to keep going and try to close out the game.”

Chowning’s trouble in the seventh mirrored the sixth when he walked the leadoff batter. Following a sacrifice bunt, a throwing error off a slow grounder bounced into the Alvin dugout, allowing the Dolphins to tie the game at 2-2.

Alvin followed with three straight hits, including its only one for extra bases (a double), to grab a 4-2 advantage. TC’s lead had suddenly vanished and momentum clearly had swung to the Dolphins’ side.

“They just got to him (Chowning) in the seventh,” Bolt said. “They’re a very good-hitting ballclub and they had seen him a couple of times, and they came up with key hits.”

Bulldog reliever Zach Fowler also was touched for a couple of hits in the big inning, one scoring a run that was charged to Chowning (5-4). Alvin sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four runs off six hits and an error.

TC tried to rally in the seventh when leadoff batter Trey Buck singled, stole second and went to third when the catcher’s throw bounced off the second-base bag.

And that brought up Phillips, who had homered, doubled and was robbed of another extra-base hit when the Alvin right fielder made a diving catch in the fourth inning.

The Dolphins replace starting pitcher Taylor Wulf, an eight-game winner, with Brett Kinsel. The reliever struck out Phillips on three pitches.

Phillips, however, came through again in the ninth. Three walks to Lance Marvel, Buck and Justin Coats loaded the bases with one out. Phillips then grounded out to second, scoring Marvel to close the gap to 5-3. Cleanup hitter Gip Hendrix, who was hitless in five trips to the plate, grounded back to the pitcher, ending the game.

“We certainly had our chances, but we just didn’t come up with enough timely hits when we needed them,” Bolt said.

David Allday, Buck and Phillips had two hits each for TC, which must fight its way back in the losers’ bracket.

“Now we need a four-game winning streak, but we’re going to take it one game at a time and play hard and see what happens,” Bolt said.

Angelina beat Wharton, 6-1, in Saturday’s opening game.

Texarkana College 100 001 001 — 3 9 2

Alvin College 000 001 40x — 5 11 1

Jason Chowning, Zach Fowler (7) and Dean Malthouse. Taylor Wulf, Brett Kinsel (7) and Adelaido Anaya. WP-Kinsel (3-2). LP-Chowning (5-4). HR-TC: David Phillips (19), 1st, none on.