By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
Navarro won a game for the ages Monday night at the Region XIV Baseball Tournament.
Oh, and they did it against rival San Jacinto, rallying and then hanging on for a 15-13 victory over the Gators in a winner's bracket game at Roadrunner Park.
The stakes were high, and the win was the biggest of the season for the Bulldogs (42-15), who advanced to Tuesday's championship game at 5 p.m. It came 24 hours after a 13-inning victory over Paris.
"It's huge to win back-to-back emotional games like that," Navarro assistant coach Matt Podjenski said. "It gives you confidence that you can get down early and come back. It's a game where you're glad you're the home team."
Monday's game had a little bit of everything. The Bulldogs fell behind 4-0 in the second inning. They led 13-6 and almost run-ruled San Jac in the seventh inning. The Gators rallied to within 13-12 in the top of the eighth. That's where the drama really began.
With the tying run on second base, Navarro's Blake Griffin, coming off a 45-pitch outing to get the win against Paris, had to keep the score at 13-12 after giving up a bloop double to Gators center fielder Dylan Brown on a ball that hit the foul line in left field for two-run hit. Griffin got out of the inning, getting right fielder JuJuan Arroyo to line out to center field.
Navarro picked up two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. Grayson Lewis singled and reached third on a two-base error. Mason Salazar followed with an RBI single for a 14-12 lead. And later in the inning, John Clay Reeves had an RBI ground out for a 15-12 lead.
In a wild game, the Bulldogs still needed three more outs. Navarro coach Whoa Dill went to first-day starter Gage Curry, who threw a five-hit shutout against Galveston on Thursday. Curry allowed a one-out walk and a triple to make it 15-13, and then turned out the lights on the Gators.
He struck out Carl Smith swinging on a high heater for the second out. After a hit batter, Curry struck out Geonte Jackson looking for the win.
"He wanted the ball tonight," Dill said of Curry. "He's a competitor. Gage and Blake were unbelievable tonight."
The Bulldogs trailed 4-0 after two innings. That's where they turned the momentum.
Starter Chad Young, who had given up five hits in the first two innings, struck out the side in the top of the third. That set the tone for him to pitch into the eighth inning.
Then with one out in the bottom of the third, Kevin Meredith hit a no-doubt-about-it home run over the left field fence to cut the San Jac lead to 4-1. The Bulldogs scored one more run in the inning on a triple by Drake Roberts and an error on Jackson.
That's where the game turned.
"A lot of people talk about momentum in football and basketball, but in baseball it is huge," Dill said. "It got our dugout going."
Navarro scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 6-4 lead. Tyler Wilson walked with the bases loaded to tie the game. Byron Reichstein had a RBI single for the lead and Lewis had a run-scoring ground out.
The Bulldogs scored five runs in the sixth for a 11-4 lead. Kaleb Goodell started the inning with his second consecutive double. Roberts followed with an RBI double. Then with one out, Wilson, Reichstein and Campbell Cooper all had RBI singles.
After San Jacinto scored twice in the top of the seventh to cut the lead to 11-6, the Bulldogs answered with two runs of thier own and led 13-6 with a chance for a run rule after seven innings. But with the bases loaded, the Bulldogs hit into a double play and had a strikeout to keep the game going.
And San Jac made things interesting with a six-run eighth, starting the inning with three infield singles to load the bases. The Gators kept up the pressure, ultimately getting the two-run double by Brown to make it one-run game at 13-12.
That's where the Bulldogs slammed the door, with just enough pitching as Griffin and Curry combined to get the last six outs of the game.
And the Bulldogs moved one step closer to Grand Junction.
Navarro 15, San Jacinto 13
San Jacinto 130 000 261 -- 13 17 5
Navarro 002 045 22x -- 15 18 4
WP -- Chad Young
LP -- Clayton Isherwood
Sv -- Gage Curry
Top hitters -- San Jac: Kelvin Ramos 4-5 (3B, 2 RBIs, 3 runs), Carl Smith 3-6 (RBI, 3 runs), Geonte Jackson 3-6 (2B, 2 RBIs, run); Navarro: Kaleb Goodell 2-4 (2 2Bs, 3 runs), Drake Roberts 4-5 (2B, 3B, RBI, four runs), Tyler Wilson 2-4 (2 RBIs, 2 runs), Byron Reichstein 3-4 (2B, 2 RBIs, run), Grayson Lewis 2-5 (RBI, run), Mason Salazar 2-5 (RBI, run), Kevin Meredith (HR, RBI, run).
Records -- San Jacinto 35-20; Navarro 41-15