Saturday, April 11, 2009

Texarkana College splits doubleheader...

Texarkana College splits doubleheader

Never has a mascot better described a player as it did Texarkana College pitcher John Stilson on Friday.

The Bulldogs’ lanky right-hander was a bulldog in the conference doubleheader against Northeast Texas Community College at George Dobson Field, going the distance in the 9-inning nightcap as TC salvaged a split with a 7-5 victory.

The Eagles (27-16, 8-10) scored four runs in the first inning and went on to win the opener, 7-3.

NTCC also scored four times off Stilson in the first inning, and added a solo home run by Adam Boucher in the second for a 5-1 lead, but the freshman from Texas High allowed two hits the rest of the way, finishing with 13 strikeouts and 130 pitches. He fanned the side in the eighth and ninth innings.

“They had my pitches in the first two innings. I was hitting my spots, but every pitch I threw they knew what was coming and they were just sitting back and hitting them,” Stilson said. “But we started changing our signs every inning after that. My arm really feels great. I guess my adrenaline kept me going because I never got tired.”

With the bullpen taxed in the first game and closer Joaquin Hinojosa unavailable after pitching three innings Wednesday, TC coach Will Bolt never hesitated in sending Stilson to the mound in the ninth, despite his high pitch count.

“John hadn’t played shortstop in a while, and we really had been montoring his throws,” Bolt said. “And he hadn’t gone above 100 pitches all year, so he had a lot of bullets today that he hadn’t used up this year. He got stronger as the game went on, and we needed him to go deep. We had to go to the pen so much in the first games that we were pretty much out of options.”

The Bulldogs (28-12, 12-7) received a huge break in a 4-run fourth that tied the game. Two runs had already scored on a walk, a double by Austin Atwell and Brian Ellis’s triple, and runners were at second and third with two outs when Gip Hendrix’s ground ball was fielded cleanly by the shortstop. But the throw was evidently lost in the sun by the first baseman and ended up in the visitors’ dugout with the tying runs scoring.

After Stilson worked out of a bases-loaded, 1-out jam in the Eagles fifth, the Bulldogs took their first lead of the day in the sixth. Losing pitcher Jared Mata walked Atwell, wild-pitched him to second and Hinojosa rolled a single through the middle that was stopped by the shortstop to prevent the run scoring. But, with two outs, Mata uncorked another wild pitch, and Atwell scored easily.

The same scenario occurred in the eighth when Trey Buck drew his third walk of the game and eventually scored on a wild pitch by Will Bathe.

Jon Houston’s 2-run double was the big blow in the Eagles’ first when they batted around. Brian Ellis walked and scored on still another wild pitch by starter Nathan Ball in the bottom of the inning. Ellis and Atwell finished with two hits each for TC. Boucher homered and singled for NTCC.

First-game starter Justin Fowler didn’t not retire a batter, yielding four runs on three hits and two walks. Greg Noble and Zach Cates had RBI singles, and another scored on a double-play ball thrown by reliever Ty Moore.

Jake Atwell’s RBI single made it 5-0 in the third, but Hinojoso belted his eighth homer to left with two on in the bottom of the inning to bring the Bulldogs within two. But that was as close as they would get, stranding 10 runners.

“We were into the game. The problem was when we got men on base we tried to do too much,” said Bolt. “Instead of trying to hit the ball up the middle, we were lifting the ball against the wind. That’s not going to work. We fought back with the home run, but we just changed our approach with men on base after that.”

Wes Schill, Atwell and Noble had two hits each for the Eagles. Ellis and Hendrix added doubles for TC.

“We need to start winning both games,” Bolt said. “At the end of the day one and one is just average. We have to find a way to put ourselves back in position to win those first games and take those sweeps.”

The Bulldogs are scheduled to host non-conference foe Tyler Junior College in a single 9-inning game Monday afternoon.


Northeast Texas 401 110 0 — 7 10 1

Texarkana College 003 000 0 — 3 6 1

Michael Nava, Trevor Stinnett (3), Blake Barber (4) and Zach Cates. Justin Fowler, Ty Moore (1), Brittan Diamond (3), Colton Reavis (5) and Jordy Snikeris. WP-Stinnett. LP-Fowler (4-4). HR: TC-Joaquin Hinojosa, 3rd, 2 on.


Northeast Texas 410 000 000 — 5 7 1

Texarkana College 100 401 01x — 7 9 0

Nathan Bell, Justin Jenkins (3), Jared Mata (4), Will Bathe (7) and Zach Cates. John Stilson and Lance Marvel. WP-Stilson (8-1). LP-Mata. HR: NTCC-Adam Boucher, 2nd, none on.