Lady Cardinals and Bobcats advance in playoffs with sweeps
Last updated 5/10/2022 at 11:26am
The state playoffs have completed two rounds in girls softball and one round for the boys in baseball. Two local teams remain alive in their quest for a state championship with the Bridge City Lady Cardinals and the Orangefield Bobcats sweeping their respective playoff series last week.
Both the Lady Cardinals and the Bobcats entered the post season as first seeds having won their district championships. The Bridge City Cardinals baseball team was a number two seed entering the post season and was eliminated in the bi-district round losing a tough three game series to the Huffman Falcons.
Bridge City is now the area champions in softball. The Lady Cardinals were undefeated in district winning all twelve of their district games, they swept the Hardin-Jefferson Lady Hawks two games to none in the bi-district round, and defeated the Wharton Lady Tigers in both games played Friday and Saturday in Baytown to advance to the third round of the post season.
The fortunes of the Lady Cardinals have been riding the outstanding pitching of Carson Fall who is only a sophomore. Fall was the best pitcher in District 22-4A this year, and she has continued to shine in the post season.
In the series against Wharton, Fall pitched two shutouts, struck out 27 Lady Tigers without issuing a walk, and surrendered a lone hit in each game. The only hit in the first game was on a bunt.
Coach Raven Harris of the Lady Cardinals said Carson Fall took care of business in the circle for Bridge City. "She was very controlled, she hit her spots, and didn't throw a lot of extra pitches so that was awesome too," Harris evaluated.
The offense for Bridge City was potent against the Lady Tigers. Several Lady Cardinals contributed with their bats in the two games.
Amaris Larkin got things started for Bridge City in the first inning of the opener on Friday with a single. Larkin came around to score the first run of the game on a base hit by Makenna Carey.
Five Lady Cardinals scored in the second inning. Nicole Sasser came to the plate with the bases loaded, and she smashed a hit scoring all three runners. Sasser later scored as did Larkin again to give Bridge City a 6-0 lead after two innings.
Two more runs were added in the third with Laurie Barg scoring on a triple by Hannah Murchison who later scored on a ground out. The rally could have been more except Lady Tiger centerfielder Zoey Johnson robbed Kaylyn Dosch with a leaping catch in front of the fence with the bases loaded.
After failing to score in the fourth Bridge City ended things quickly in the fifth as Murchison led off with a single and Kyleigh Hamilton courtesy ran for her. Lexi Nugier followed with a bunt single on which Hamilton went all the way to third and then scored on an error by the Lady Tiger catcher. Sasser singled to drive home Nugier with the Lady Cardinals' tenth run and Nicole's fourth run batted in of the game to wrap up the 10-0 victory.
Sasser was praised by Coach Harris after the game. "She really did a very good job today hitting the ball. We usually use her for bunting, but she got in there and hit a ball right up the middle and that's everything you could want as a coach," Harris exclaimed.
Game 2 of the series was played Saturday also at Goose Creek Memorial in Baytown. The result was more of the same like the first game as Bridge City won 8-0 to finish the sweep.
Kaylyn Dosch had to have been frustrated after the first game when she hit a liner to third that was turned into a double play before seeing her long drive to center being snared near the top of the fence. Dosch more than made up for it in the second game with two hits and driving in four runs for the Lady Cardinals.
Brooklyn Droddy had two hits in the game to help the Bridge City cause. Marlie Strong and Hannah Murchison both had runs batted in during the game.
The next opponent for the Bridge City Lady Cardinals will be quite the test. Bridge City plays the defending state champion Liberty Lady Panthers. The Lady Cardinals will return to play the best of three series with Liberty at Baytown's Goose Creek Memorial High School. Game 1 is Thursday at 6:00 PM, Game 2 is scheduled for 6:00 PM on Friday, and a third game if necessary will be on Saturday at noon.
The Bridge City boys played all three games in their series against Huffman at Chuck Young Field in Bridge City. The first game was Friday night before a doubleheader on Saturday.
The Huffman Falcons got a superb game from their pitcher Cade Walker who shutout the Cardinals 7-0 in the first game. First baseman Ramiro Meza had a double in the third to put the Falcons up 3-0 before Huffman exploded for four runs in the fourth to secure the win.
Cardinal pitcher Ethan Oceguera had a tough night suffering only his second loss since the district games began back in the middle of March. Oceguera only lasted on the mound into the fourth inning.
For Game 2 on Saturday Bridge City called on Landon Reeves to start on the mound. Reeves had been used throughout the season in relief primarily the closer, but he adjusted very nicely to being the starter.
Reeves threw six and two thirds inning allowing three runs all of which were unearned. He gave up just three hits, walked two, hit a batter, and struck out four Falcons.
Cardinal Coach Chad Landry commented on the clutch performance by Reeves in his starter's role. "We knew that we were going to have to mix things up with good curve balls all day long and he did it. He battled his tail off, that's the longest outing of this career in a big spot and a must win game," Landry emphasized.
The Cardinals who were the designated visitors for this game scored early and often in the first three innings. Catcher Justin Abate singled with one out in the first and courtesy runner Trey Lovelace scored when Ethan Oceguera walked with the bases loaded to give Bridge City a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
Bridge City tacked three more runs on the board in the second as Abate hit a two-out three-run homer to left field. Landry applauded Abate, "He's definitely our most improved player on the team this year. He's worked so hard. Coach Uzzle and he have an incredible relationship, and honestly every pitch called today was Justin's."
Huffman scored all of its runs of the game in the bottom of the second. The Falcons took advantage of two errors by the Cardinals to cut the Bridge City lead to 4-3 after two innings.
The two brothers Bearden helped get two of those runs back in the third. Hutch Bearden began the inning with a hit that glanced off the third base bag into left field. He was forced out at second on a grounder by Reeves, but older brother JS Bearden blasted a double to right center field that scored Reeves and John Van Huis who had singled between Reeves and JS to put the Cardinals up by three runs.
The Bridge City bats bopped the ball again in the seventh scoring four runs. Deegan King walked to get the rally started. Aidyn Mulholland hit a scorcher just inside the bag at third for a double that plated King and Oceguera who had reached on an error. JS Bearden got the last two runs home with a single that scored Mulholland and Van Huis who had been hit by a pitch and stole second base making the final score 10-3 when the Falcons failed to score in the bottom of the seventh.
The win by Bridge City forced a third game in which the Cardinals were the designated home team as they were in the opening game on Friday. Unlike the earlier game on Saturday the third was a pitchers' duel.
RJ Esquivel started for Bridge City and gave a superb performance for five and two thirds innings. Esquivel yielded just one unearned run, one hit, four walks, and struck out eight Falcons.
The one run Huffman scored against Esquivel came in the third when Jacob Eccles walked and was sacrificed to second. Eccles came home when a fly ball to left field glanced off the glove of Hutch Bearden. It was ruled an error, but it would have been a very good catch by Bearden if he hung on to it.
Ramiro Meza had been a hitting hero for Huffman in the first game on Friday and was the star of the third game. Meza threw a two-hit shutout walking only the first Cardinal batter John Van Huis until controversy erupted in the bottom of the sixth inning.
With two outs in the Cardinal half of the sixth JS Bearden hit a high fly ball deep to left field. The ball was curving towards the foul pole. The third base umpire went out towards the fence and signaled with his hand that the ball was fair and was a homerun.
Bearden trotted around the bases with the apparent tying run for the Cardinals. The four-man umpire crew then held a discussion which lasted a couple of minutes after which the umpire who made the initial call of a homerun changed his mind and said the ball had curved foul before clearing the fence and the top of the foul pole.
Bridge City and Coach Landry were not happy with the change in the umpire's call. "The explanation given to me was total hog wash. It's a travesty that a moment like that the guy can talk himself out of the call," Landry replied.
The umpires also forgot what the count was on Bearden when he hit the long foul. After the next pitch Bearden was issued a base on balls by the home plate umpire despite apparently having a two balls, two strike count before that.
Abate was the next Cardinal batter and hit a high foul pop up to the screen by the stands on the right side of the plate. The Falcon catcher appeared to have difficulty seeing the ball, but the pitcher Meza accustomed to pop ups when he plays first base calmly reached out and made the catch to retire the side.
The Falcons added a superfluous run in the seventh to take a two-run lead. Bridge City went down in order in the bottom of the seventh securing the 2-0 win for Huffman and the series two games to one for the Falcons.
The one seed Orangefield Bobcats of District 22-4A played the fourth seeded Liberty Panthers out of District 21-4A at Baytown in a doubleheader on Friday. The Bobcats were designated the visitors for the first game.
Orangefield scored three runs in the third to take the initial lead in the game. Trent Eaves was hit by a pitch to start the rally. Caleb Fregia bunted for a single and Kameryn Henderson singled to load the bases. Tyler Shearin drove Eaves and Fregia home with a single to right before Kyle Michael hit a sacrifice fly to score Henderson.
Bobcat starting pitcher Coop Longron shut down Liberty the first three innings. The Panthers pounded four hits in the fourth and scored three runs to tie the game.
Fregia reached on a base hit to start the Orangefield fifth. He went to third on a ground out and a Liberty error. Shearin beat out an infield hit for a run batted in that scored Fregia giving the Bobcats a 4-3 lead.
The advantage was two runs for Orangefield with a run in the sixth. Kolbie Sowell was hit by a pitch, went to second after a walk to Brannon Lecoq, and scored on a single by Macoy Marze.
The Bobcats got insurance runs in the seventh with Henderson opening with a single. Michael singled Henderson home and tallied the final run on a hit by Lecoq to make the final score 7-3.
Jason Bodin replaced Longron on the mound in the sixth and closed out the game getting the last six outs without allowing a run. Longron was the winning pitcher and Bodin earned a save for the Bobcats.
The second game followed on Friday night with Orangefield the home team. Trent Eaves started on the mound for the Bobcats. Liberty scored once in the top of the first with two hits and a Bobcat error.
Orangefield answered in the bottom of the first. Tyler Shearin, Kyle Michael, and Kolbie Sowell drew three successive walks to load the bases. Bodin singled to center to drive in two runs and give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead after one.
The Bobcats had opportunities but failed to add runs despite triples by Kameryn Henderson in the second and Eaves in the third. Ten runners were left on base by Orangefield in the game.
Eaves found his groove after the opening inning striking out ten Panthers, walking three, giving up three hits, and most importantly surrendering no more runs. He was replaced on the mound by Jason Bodin to start the seventh.
Bodin who was great in the first game could not find the strike zone in the second game. Bodin threw ten pitches and walked both Liberty batters he faced.
With the tying run at second and the go ahead run on first with nobody out Orangefield made another pitching change. Kolbie Sowell went to the hill to face the top of the batting order for Liberty. Sowell was overpowering striking out all three batters to end the game in capping the 2-1 victory and giving the Bobcats a sweep in the series.
Tim Erickson the head coach of the Orangefield Bobcats was proud of how his team battled a very tough Liberty ball club. "You look at it as a one versus four, people think no big deal, but we knew what we were getting into with Liberty they're very well coached, they put a little pressure on you when they are swinging it the way they do," Erickson analyzed.
Next Orangefield will play the Navasota Rattlers. Game 1 of the best of three series will be Thursday at 7:00 PM at Sitton Field on the Humble High School campus. Game 2 will be 5:00 PM on Friday also at Sitton Field with Game 3 to follow there if necessary.