The No. 6 McLennan Highlanders got another doubleheader sweep Thursday afternoon at Bosque River Ballpark, this time over the Navarro Bulldogs.
McLennan began the scoring with two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Dylan Neuse drew a lead-off walk and Josh Breaux also walked. Keaton Milford followed with a single to score Neuse, and Breaux scored on a single by Grant Miller.
Navarro tied the game with two runs in the top of the third. Noah Menchaca drew a walk and Derek Mueller doubled. Esteban Cordoza-Oquendo then singled to score Menchaca and Mueller.
Chase Sortor's solo home run in the bottom of the third put the Highlanders back on top, and Neuse homered in the fourth to round out the scoring.
The Highlanders defeated the Bulldogs 11-9 in dramatic come-from-behind fashion in game two to get the sweep. Alex DeLeon got the win on the mound for McLennan.
Once again, the Highlanders began the scoring with one run in the bottom of the first inning. Neuse singled and stole second. Mitchell Caskey reached first safely on a Navarro error, moving Neuse to third. Neuse then scored as Breaux hit into a double play.
Navarro took the lead with two runs in the top of the second as Beau Orlando walked and scored on Menchaca's home run.
The Highlanders scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to take the 4-2 lead. Griffin Paxton was safe at first and moved to second on an error by the Bulldogs' first baseman. Sortor followed with a double to score Paxton. Thomas Santos drew a walk, and both runners advanced on a sacrifice by Nick Thornquist. George Callil then doubled to score Sortor and Santos.
The Bulldogs cut the McLennan lead in half with a run in the top of the third. Josh Ragan singled but was out at second on a fielder's choice by Scott Hastings. Orlando followed with a single, and Menchaca walked to load the bases. Hastings then came in to score on a wild pitch.
McLennan extended its lead to 8-3 with four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Breaux walked and Milford doubled. Breaux and Milford both scored on the three-run bomb by Paxton. Sortor followed with another solo home run.
Navarro added two runs in the top of the fifth. Tim Bechtold led off with a single, Ragan walked and Hastings was hit by the pitch to load the bases. Menchaca reached first safely on a Highlander error, bringing Bechtold in to score. Ragan then scored on a ground out by Matt Wood.
The Bulldogs took the lead with four runs in the seventh. Orlando singled, Menchaca walked and Wood was safe on an error, loading the bases. Mueller followed with a fielder's choice, putting Orlando out at the plate. Menchaca scored on a single by Cordoza-Oquendo, and Wood scored on an error. Bechtold followed with a fielder's choice to score Mueller and Cordoza-Oquendo.
McLennan regained the lead with three runs in the bottom of the eighth. Callil and Neuse both singled. Aidan Shepardson followed with a fielder's choice, putting Callil out at third. Milford singled to score Neuse, and Paxton walked. Sortor followed with a single to score Shepardson and Milford.
Payton Strambler took the mound in relief for the Highlanders in the top of the ninth, sealing the win by striking out two and forcing pinch hitter Kyle Landers to fly out.
"It's always good to get two Ws, so anytime you can sweep a doubleheader, you have to be pleased with the effort. The first game was a pretty well-played game and well-pitched game from both sides," head coach Mitch Thompson said. "Freeman was outstanding for us in going almost the complete game. We got him out of the game at about his 90-pitch limit, but he could have finished it in the seventh inning. Once the tying run came to the plate, we decided to let Strambler go ahead and close it out, and he was very good in his one-hitter to get the save."
"Neuse continues to play well at the top of our lineup, having four quality at-bats in the first game. Then Sortor had a big day, hitting a home run in game one and then getting four hits, including a home run and a couple doubles, in game two."
"Game two was one of these games you have to learn from. We were ahead 8-3, kind of coasting and feeling good about ourselves with the wind blowing out. We've got to learn that you can never coast; you gotta keep adding to it. Before we know it, going into the bottom of the eighth inning, we are down 9-8. Thankfully, we are able to get a couple guys on through base hits and then come up with a couple big, two-out hits and take the lead, then close it out in the ninth," Thompson said.
"Overall, it's two good wins. I'm very proud of our bullpen. In game one, Strambler was good, and in game two, Grant Miller was fantastic. He came in and got big outs with multiple men on base. And then, Alex DeLeon was really good in [the] last couple innings in getting the win," Thompson said.
McLennan 4, Navarro 2
Navarro 002 000 0 – 2 5 1
McLennan 201 100 x – 4 7 1
Austin Faith, Pepper Jones (5) and Beau Orlando. Logan Freeman, Payton Strambler (7) and Josh Breaux. WP: Freeman; LP: Faith; SV: Strambler. Leading hitters – Navarro: Esteban Cordoza-Oquendo (2-3, 2 RBI) and Derek Mueller (1-2, 2B); McLennan: Dylan Neuse (2-3, HR, RBI), Keaton Milford (2-3, RBI), Grant Miller (1-3, RBI) and Chase Sortor (1-3, HR, RBI). Record: McLennan 9-2.
McLennan 11, Navarro 9
Navarro 021 020 400 – 9 10- 3
McLennan 134 000 03x – 11 11 3
Brady Mehl, Collin Storms (3), Colin Wyman (3), Trey Becerra (6), Asher Cook (8) and Justin Moore. Tristen Bayless, Grant Miller (6), Alex DeLeon (7) and Nick Thornquist. WP: Alex DeLeon; LP: Trey Becerra. Leading hitters – Navarro: Esteban Cordoza-Oquendo (1-4, RBI), Tim Bechtold (3-5, 2 RBI), Noah Menchaca (1-3, HR, 3 RBI), Matt Wood (0-5, RBI), Derek Mueller (1-5, 2B); McLennan: Dylan Neuse (2-4), Keaton Milford (2-5, 2B, RBI), Griffin Paxton (1-4, HR, 3 RBI), Chase Sortor (4-5, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI), Nick Thornquist (1-3, 2B) and George Callil (2-4, 2B, 2 RBI). Record: McLennan 10-2.