Ponies stomp Baton Rouge Bears
Saturday, March 16, the Panola Ponies’ baseball team ran their season record to 14-10 by beating the visiting Baton Rouge CC Bears in both ends of a doubleheader, 8-7 and 12-6. Since their disappointing 2-4 start on the season, the Ponies are 12-6.
In the first game Saturday, the Bears chased Ponies’ starter Gavin Williamson in the top of the third. Coach Todd Shelton brought in Hallsville’s Jesse Hanson with the Ponies down 7-0, two outs and the bases loaded. Hanson ended the inning with the first of his three strikeouts in a four-inning stint that saw him earn his first win of the season.
The Ponies were scoreless until the fifth when third baseman Matt Spruill singled and later scored on Randy Ventura’s RBI single. In the sixth, the Ponies tied the score at 7 on four singles, two walks and a Bears’ error. Ventura and first baseman Hunter Hagler, who was to have his best day at the plate this season, had RBI singles in the frame. Catcher Eli Whitmire led off the bottom of the 9th with a walk. Shortstop Trevin Sonnier bunted Whitmire over to second, and Whitmire stole third. Centerfielder Derrian James, whose clutch hitting has become almost routine, delivered the game-winning RBI single. James had three hits and two walks in the game.
Adam Atkins closed out the 8th and 9th frames to earn the save. Adams surrendered one scratch single while striking out two, and stranded the single Bear runner at first.
In the second game, the Ponies put on their most impressive power display of the season. Greg Martens and Sonnier hit their first home runs of the year, while James tied Clint Cage for the teams’ home run lead with his third dinger of the year. Hagler ignited the offensive fireworks with four singles and six RBI. James added two singles and a walk to his homer, scoring four times in the game. Ventura scored twice and Cage once. Martens added two more RBI to his homer with a single and a sacrifice fly.
Hunter Palmer started the game and pitched four strong innings before he ran into trouble in the fifth. Shelton brought in reliever Robbie Petty, who hurled four strong innings en route to earning his third win of the year. Tyler Stallings closed the last two innings, surrendering a couple of runs in the 8th but holding the Bears in check in the last frame.
Next up for the Ponies is a conference double header with Northeast Texas Wednesday, March 20, in Carthage. This match marks the beginning of the second round of conference play. In the first meeting between these teams in Mt. Pleasant, the Ponies won two close games, 4-3 and 3-2. The Ponies ended the first round in second place with 7-3 record, one game behind Navarro and a game ahead of the Paris Dragons. Game time is 3 p.m. at Jim Reeves Memorial Field.