By Todd Wills
Special to the Corsicana Daily Sun
Navarro pitches better than any team in the conference by a sizable advantage.
But don't ever fall asleep on the Bulldogs' bats.
Navarro pounded out 34 hits in a doubleheader sweep of Northeast on Wednesday afternoon at Graham Field, rallying for a 9-8 victory in Game 2 of the twinbill after winning 12-2 in the opener.
The Bulldogs (36-13, 24-4) have won 13 of their last 15 games as they get geared up for the postseason. Navarro, which moved up to No. 11 in the NJCAA national rankings to lead all Texas teams, has already clinched the Region XIV East Conference title with two games left in the conference season.
The Bulldogs came into Friday's game hitting .299 as a team. Their well over .300 now.
"The last two weeks have been like that," Navarro coach Whoa Dill said. "We've been swinging the bats. We picked up those pitchers that didn't pitch well today."
Navarro needed all 20 hits it rapped out in the second game to complete the sweep. Trailing 8-7 in the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs produced a two-out rally. Mason Salazar had an infield single and scored on a double to left field by Drake Roberts to tie the game at 8-8. Roberts then stole third base, a crucial play as he scored the go-ahead run on an infield single by Tyler Wilson for a 9-8 lead.
Reliever J.D. Hammer shut down the Eagles' offense in the seventh and eighth innings, retiring all six batters he faced to get the victory. Blake Griffin worked around a hit batter in the top of the ninth for his 10th save.
Game 2 went back and forth. The Eagles led 5-0 after three innings. Navarro turned the game around with six runs in the bottom of the fourth.
The Bulldogs scored five runs with two outs. Roberts had an RBI double and John Clay Reeves followed with a two-run double to tie the game at 5-5. Wilson then completed a cycle for the day, ripping an RBI triple down the right-field line for a 6-5 lead.
Northeast tied the game in the top of the fifth on an RBI groundout by Jason Freeman, but the Bulldogs answered that run on a single by catcher Drew Benefield in the bottom of the inning.
The Eagles took the lead back with a two-run sixth. Cutter Schaney had an RBI ground out and Wesley Hoover had a sacrifice fly to center field for an 8-7 lead.
Navarro used a big inning in Game 1 to put away the Eagles. The Bulldogs exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the sixth as the first eight batters reached base. Kevin Meredith and Salazar started the inning by getting hit by Northeast starting pitcher Justin Schnedler. The Bulldogs then reeled off six straight hits.
Roberts started the hit parade with an RBI single to left for a 6-2 lead. Reeves followed with an RBI double and Byron Reichstein had a run-scoring single. Wilson, who homered in his previous at-bat, ripped an RBI double. Campbell Cooper had a two-run triple to center field and Jovan Hernandez a RBI single for a 12-2 lead.
Navarro starter Gage Curry started the game with three shutout innings, and the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead on Meredith's walk and stolen base and a two-out single to left by Reeves.
The Eagles took a brief 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning as first baseman Payton Allen had a sacrifice fly and Mason Mantle had a two-out RBI double.
Navarro took the lead back with a three-run fourth. Hernandez had an RBI single and Salazar walked with the bases loaded for a 4-2 lead. Wilson made it 5-2 in the bottom of the fifth with his third home run, a solo home run to left field.
Curry (7-2) dominated in the top of the sixth, striking out the side. He had nine strikeouts and allowed two runs on five hits.
The Bulldogs still have goals to play for before they go after their top ones of winning the regional title and their second national title in three years. They want 40 regular season wins and have five more games left to get there.
"We're trying to use that to keep them going," Dill said.
It's working so far.
Navarro 11, Northeast 2
Northeast 000 200 0 -- 2 5 0
Navarro 001 317 x-- 12 14 0
WP -- Gage Curry (7-2)
LP -- Justin Schledler
Top hitters -- Northeast Hayden Martin 1-2 (SB), J.R. Lacy 1-3, Matt Durst 1-3 (run), Wesley Hoover 1-2 (run), Mason Mantle 1-2 (2B, RBI); Navarro: Tyler Wilson 2-3 (HR, 2B, 2 RBIs, 3 runs), Campbell Cooper 2-3 (3B, 2 RBI, 2 runs), John Clay Reeves 2-3 (2B, 2 RBIs, run), Jovan Hernandez 2-4 (2 RBIs, run), Kevin Meredith 1-2 (2 runs, SB), Mason Salazar 1-2 (RBI, run).
Records -- Navarro 36-13, 23-4.
Navarro 9, Northeast 8
Northeast 131 012 000 -- 8 11 0
Navarro 000 610 20x -- 9 20 0
WP -- J.D. Hammer (3-0)
LP -- Hunter Whitlock
SV -- Blake Griffin
Top hitters -- Northeast: Hayden Martin 2-5 (RBI, 2 runs), J.R. Lacy 3-5 (RBI, 2 runs), Cutter Schaney 2-4 (2 RBIs), Mason Mantle 2-4 (2 RBIs); Navarro: Mason Salazar 3-6 (RBI, 2 runs), Drake Roberts 3-5 (2 RBIs, 2 runs, SB), John Clay Reeves 3-4 (2B, 2 RBIs, run), Tyler Wilson 3-5 (3B, 2 RBIs), Grayson Lewis 2-5 (2B, 2 runs), Drew Benefield 2-5 (2B, RBI), Kevin Meredith 2-4 (run).
Records -- Navarro 37-13, 24-4.
Bulldogs up to No. 11 in latest poll
From Staff Reports
Navarro moved up to No. 11 in the latest NJCAA baseball poll released Thursday. The Bulldogs wrapped up the Region XIV East Zone championship after winning one of two games Saturday with Panola.
Here is this week’s poll:
Rk. School Rec. Pts. 1sts Prev.
1. Tallahassee CC, Fla. 42-8 190 8 2
2. Cowley County, Kan. 37-8 181 2 6
3. Delgado CC, La. 40-8 157 0 9
4. Iowa Western 34-10 151 0 3
5. Lamar CC, Colo. 40-11 149 0 7
6. Crowder College, Mo. 34-10 147 0 1
7. Faulkner St. CC, Ala. 37-7 144 0 10
8. Southern Nevada 32-13 121 0 4
9. Darton St., Ga. 35-8 112 0 13
10. Cochise College, Ariz. 41-11 106 0 NR
11. Navarro College 35-13 93 0 14
12. Spartanburg, S.C. 35-13 86 0 12
13. Connors St., Okla. 39-5 81 0 NR
14. Grayson College 30-14 78 0 5
15. Wabash Valley, Ill. 35-10 72 0 18
16. Miami Dade , Fla. 35-8 68 0 11
17. Central Arizona 39-13 36 0 8
18. Walters St., Tenn. 31-15 34 0 NR
19. Chattahoochee , Ala. 38-8 30 0 19
20. New Mexico JC 38-10 21 0 RV