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By Dan Perrine
For the Record 

Cardinals and Bears split two

 

Last updated 3/26/2023 at 8:59pm

JS Bearden pitched four strong innings for Bridge City and Connor Riojas had a key double in a three-run rally to help the Cardinals beat LCM in the first game between the two teams last week

County rivals Bridge City and Little Cypress Mauriceville played two times last week. The District 19-4A baseball schedule has opposing schools playing each other twice in the same week as opposed to the previous format of playing each district opponent once before repeating the pattern of playing the other teams.

The Bridge City Cardinals won the first meeting 7-3 on Tuesday, March 21, at Don Gibbens Field on the Little Cypress Mauriceville campus. The Little Cypress Mauriceville Bears returned the favor winning the second game 7-5 in eight innings at Bridge City's Chuck Young Field on Friday, March 24.

It did not take the Cardinals long to grab the lead in Tuesday's game as leadoff hitter John Van Huis singled and scored on a two-out single by JS Bearden. A walk to Dax Latiolas and a single by Aidyn Mulhollan brought Bearden home with a second first inning run for Bridge City.

Little Cypress Mauriceville threatened to score in the first inning loading the bases with two walks and a hit batter. Cardinal starting pitcher Braylen Collins got out of the jam with a fly ball to center to retire the side.

Collins was not so fortunate in the second inning. Walks to Landon Richards and Clay Raney followed by a bunt single by Parker Seago loaded the bases with one out.

Pierce Brown hit a soft liner to right that Cardinal second baseman Hunter Ford made a convincing bluff he was going to catch it keeping Seago close to first. The ball landed safely in front of right fielder JS Bearden who rifled a throw to second for the force out on Brown but Richards did score.

The Bears' Marco Bandiero singled to center scoring Raney to tie the game 2-2. Dean Reynolds then drew the fifth base on balls allowed by Collins and Bridge City Coach Chad Landry pulled him.

Bearden was moved from right field to the mound for the Cardinals. He struck out Cameron Bilbo to end the LCM rally and keep the score tied.

It only took until the next half inning for Bridge City to reclaim the lead. Bearden appeared to strike out but the third strike got away from the Bears' catcher and JS sprinted to first base safely.

A passed ball moved Bearden to second base with two outs. Back to back doubles by Mulhollan and Connor Riojas got the Cardinals two runs and Landon Reeves delivered another two-out hit to drive in Riojas to give Bridge City a 5-2 lead.

Leading off the top of the fourth Van Huis rocketed a drive to centerfield. The ball cleared the wall for a homerun and that was the last pitch for Bear starter Landon Richards. Dylan Istre took Richards' place on the mound, and he pitched the final four innings for LCM.

The Bears put two runners on base in both the fourth and the fifth innings against Bearden but could not get any of them home. In the sixth Seago got his third hit of the game, went to third on a single to right by Bandiero, and scored on Reynolds' infield single to cut the Cardinals' lead to 6-3.

Bridge City got that run back in the seventh as Latiolas singled and scored after hits by Mulhollan and Reeves. Justin McCarver started the bottom of the seventh for LCM with a double down the left field line and Richards walked which was all for Bearden on the mound. Reeves came in from left field to pitch and retired the next three batters to end the game sealing the 7-3 Cardinal win.

Bearden was the winning pitcher for Bridge City allowing just one run in four and one third innings. JS gave up six hits, walked two, hit a batter, and struck out nine Bears.

Coach Landry expressed the contributions made by Bearden for the Cardinals. "He's been a huge part of our program the last four years. I'm glad it's finally showing up for him. He's an incredible kid. What JS did tonight was extremely impressive throwing strike after strike. I'm really proud of him. What a great effort by JS Bearden," Landry lauded.

Friday night was another entertaining game with both teams taking leads and making comebacks before it was over. Just as Bridge City scored early in Tuesday's game Little Cypress Mauriceville did the same on Friday.

Pierce Brown reached base on an error with one out in the first for the Bears. Marco Bandiero singled and Dean Reynolds walked to load the bases. Cameron Bilbo singled to left bringing home Brown and Bandiero for a 2-0 Bear lead.

Little Cypress Mauriceville appeared poised to break the game open after Parker Freeman reloaded the bases with an infield hit. Cardinal third baseman Austin Frederick made a heads up play on the next batter when he fielded a grounder to him, stepped on the bag at third, and then fired across the diamond to first for an inning ending double play.

For the second straight game John Van Huis got a leadoff hit and scored a run in the first inning for Bridge City. Justin Abate hit a sacrifice fly to bring Van Huis home.

The Cardinals took their only lead of this game in the second with two runs. Dax Latiolas began the inning with a walk and went to third on a bloop single by Connor Riojas just inside the right field line. Landon Reeves doubled off the left field fence to drive home Latiolas, and Brice Swanton hit a grounder to first that scored Riojas to give Bridge City a 3-2 advantage after two innings.

Bears Brown and Bandiero brought the lead back to LCM in the third. Pierce singled and Marco hit a high fly ball to right field that may have been aided by the wind sailing over the fence for a two-run homer that put Little Cypress Mauriceville ahead 4-3. A chance to pad the lead was missed as the Bears failed to score with the bases loaded for the second time in the early going.

Bandiero delivered his third hit of the game in the fourth with a double that rattled off the right field fence to drive home Parker Seago who had been hit by a pitch. The Bears led 5-3 but left runners at second and third as the inning ended.

Bridge City bounced back in the bottom of the inning with two runs using a bunt single by Chasse Goodwin and four walks to tie the game 5-5 after four innings. Seago replaced Dean Reynolds on the mound for the Bears issuing two of the walks before getting a strike out to end the Bridge City rally with the bases left loaded.

Reeves came in to pitch for the Cardinals at the beginning of the fourth inning. Reeves and Seago dueled for the next three innings neither one allowing further runs between the fifth through the seventh innings.

The top of the eighth began routinely as Reeves retired the first two Bears on ground outs. Bandiero was hit by a pitch and Reynolds walked on a three-two pitch before a passed ball moved both runners ninety feet closer.

Bilbo blasted a shot in the gap to the right field fence driving in Bandiero and Reynolds for the Bears to take a 7-5 lead. Bilbo had three hits in the game that produced four runs for LCM.

Parker Seago threw four shutout innings and Cameron Bilbo brought home four Bear runners with his hits as LCM defeated Bridge City in their second game against each other last week

Seago closed the deal in the bottom of the eighth retiring the Cardinals in order. In his last four innings Parker walked only one, did not give up a hit, and struck out five Cardinals to get a well-deserved win for himself.

LCM coach Hunter Hagler was pumped after the victory for the Bears. "Anytime you win against the Cardinals it's a really good win. I can't tell you how proud I am of the Bears as far as coming into this environment and competing every single pitch, playing together, never getting too high, never getting too low. We played the game how it's supposed to be played. We did everything we could to win the ball game," Hagler responded.

This week is the bye week for the Bridge City Cardinals. Their only game scheduled was on Tuesday against non-district opponent Sam Houston. The Little Cypress Mauriceville Bears play their other cross-county rival the Vidor Pirates twice. Tuesday's game was in Vidor and Friday, March 31, the Bears and the Pirates play at Little Cypress Mauriceville.

 

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