Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Orangefield bows out in baseball

A marvelous season for Orangefield baseball concluded on June 1 in Lufkin. The Bobcats were eliminated from the UIL state playoffs in the Region III Finals.

Orangefield advanced to the fifth round in the baseball post season for the first time since 1990. The Bobcats won seventy-five percent of their games finishing with a 30-10 record for the season.

The regional final pitted the Orangefield Bobcats the champions of District 22-3A against the Franklin Lions the winners in District 20-3A. The teams played a best of three game series at the Lufkin High School baseball facility which is a completely synthetic turf field.

The first game was scheduled to start on Thursday night, May 30, but a torrential thunderstorm began about six o'clock and lasted for almost three hours causing the game to be postponed. A doubleheader was setup for Friday afternoon between the Bobcats and the Lions.

Orangefield was the designated home team for the first game, so Franklin batted first and jumped into the early lead scoring two runs in the first inning off Bobcat starting pitcher Brycen Tait. Leadoff Lion batter Josh Atomanczyk singled to center, was sacrificed to second, and scored the initial run on a hit by Court Lowry. A courtesy runner later scored for Lowry to make the score 2-0 in the first.

The Lions made it 3-0 in the second inning getting the leadoff man on again who scored on a one out double to left. A nice fielding play by Bobcat shortstop Caleb Fregia ended the inning to keep the deficit at three runs.

The Bobcats cut the lead to two runs in the bottom of the third when Adam Tran opened the inning by bouncing a single over the head of the Lion third baseman. Kane Smith bunted for a single before Mason Houghton sacrificed Tran and Smith into scoring position. Logan Cheek brought Tran home with an infield hit changing the score to 3-1 in favor of Franklin.

In the top of the next inning the Lions attempted a squeeze play with runners at third and first, but Orangefield's Matthew Johnson at third gloved the ball quickly enough to flip to catcher Carson Worthy for the tag out at the plate. Despite that good defensive play Franklin still scored two more runs to go up 5-1 through three and a half innings.

A comeback by the Bobcats started in the fifth when Smith drew a base on balls to begin the inning and then stole second base. Houghton also walked and the Franklin relief pitcher just brought in was called for a balk advancing the two Bobcats to third and second. Smith scored on a wild pitch to cut the Lion's lead to 5-2 after five.

Camden Fountain began the Bobcat sixth with a walk, and Johnson did the same. Worthy sacrificed the Bobcat base runners up, and Tran brought Fountain home with a sacrifice fly to left to narrow the score to 5-3 going to the seventh.

Atomanczyk was at second base with one out and attempted to go to third on a grounder to Fregia at short who threw to Johnson at third for an important tag out. The next Franklin hitter doubled which would have scored Atomanczyk but still left Lions at third and second. A walk loaded the bases, but Tait got out of the jam unscathed when the next batter flew out to Smith in centerfield.

Down two runs with three outs left the Bobcats' chances looked desperate. Cheek was hit by a pitch with one out to keep the light glimmering. With two outs pinch hitter Carson Gonzales imitated the lightning from the previous night lining a white bolt to the centerfield fence for a double to drive in Cheek and cut the margin to just one run.

Kyler Green ran for Gonzales and went to third on an errant pitch when Fountain walked again. Johnson hit a grounder in the hole between third and short which the Lions could not convert into an out as Green scampered home with the tying run to knot the game 5-5 forcing extra innings.

New life was breathed into the Bobcats, and a new pitcher Garrett Rawls came on to throw in the top of the eighth. Rawls walked the first Lion batter who got to third with one out but was stranded there as Garrett registered a strike out and a ground out to Tran at second to end the inning.

In the Orangefield half of the eighth inning Smith singled to center with one out. Houghton sacrificed Kane to second. Cheek was hit by a pitch again and Fregia was walked intentionally by Franklin to get the chance to face the Bobcat pitcher Rawls instead with the bases loaded.

Rawls patiently watched three pitches before swinging and fouling off the fourth delivery to even the count at two and two. As the fifth pitch was on its way to the plate Smith dashed home from third sliding head first just evading the catcher's tag to score the winning run in dramatic fashion for the 6-5 victory.

"We had some chances to make some plays and didn't, left some people on base in big spots, still just hung around, kept scratching, and then finally found a way to win in the end. That was a really good win," Bobcat Coach Tim Erickson exclaimed afterwards.

As it turned out that steal of home by Kane Smith would be the last run of the series for Orangefield. Franklin got shutout pitching from Josh Atomanczyk during Game 2 later that Friday evening the Lions winning 7-0, and a no hitter from Cadyn Shaw in the third game played Saturday afternoon through two lengthy weather delays ending in the sixth inning when Franklin took a 10-0 lead.

"At the end of the day between two really good teams, it's supposed to come down to a game three. I thought we did a great job the first game just staying in the game, and then they got settled in on the mound in game two and again in game three just throwing outs," Coach Erickson concluded.

 

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Rendered 06/24/2024 22:25