Ponies take two from Angelina Roadrunners
In Lufkin Wednesday, March 13, the Panola Ponies’ baseball team won both ends of a doubleheader with Angelina, running their conference record to 9-3. The Ponies are now in sole possession of second place in the conference, a half-game behind Navarro, which was idle Wednesday.
As the Ponies approach the halfway mark of the season, their overall record stands at 12-10, despite a 2-4 start against Northeast Oklahoma and Crowder College.
Against Angelina, Coach Todd Shelton shuffled his infield in response to the Ponies’ six errors against TJC Monday, March 11. Hunter Hagler moved from third to first, with Giovanni Lugo taking over duties at second base. Second baseman Matt Spruill replaced Hagler at third, and Trevin Sonnier remained at shortstop. Despite a couple of miscues, the new infield played well.
In Game 1, the Ponies took advantage of lefty Jarrid Garcia’s wildness for 3 runs in the first inning. The Ponies loaded the bases when Derrian James walked, Spruill singled, and Clint Cage drew a base on balls. Lugo drew another walk, plating James. Greg Martens followed with a two-RBI single, scoring Spruill and Cage. But for back-to-back singles by Hagler and Cage in the third, the Ponies’ bats would remain quiet until the game entered extra innings.
In the bottom of the second, Angelina’s Greg Belton hit a solo shot off Ponies’ starter Preston Guillory. Zach Smith led off the Roadrunners’ fifth with a single, took second on a fielder’s choice, and scored on Matt Sinclair’s single. On the day, Guillory was rock solid, surrendering only two runs on three hits. Robbie Petty relieved Guillory in the sixth inning. In the seventh, a single, an error, and a sac fly plated the Roadrunners’ third run, sending the game into extra innings.
The Ponies responded quickly as Cage beat out an infield single and took second when the Roadrunners’ shortstop mishandled Martens’ hard groundball. Right fielder Michael Donovan walked and the Ponies scored what proved to be the winning run on catcher Jacob Blissett’s sac fly to deep right. Sonnier closed out the scoring with a two-RBI double. Petty stymied the Roadrunners in the bottom of the eighth, earning his second win of the season.
Final Score: Ponies 6, Roadrunners 3
Because the first game went into extra innings, NJCAA rules dictated that the second game would be seven innings instead of the usual nine.
Once again, the Ponies jumped on Angelina’s starter, this time righty Halden Maynard, in the first inning, posting five runs with a two-out rally. Centerfielder Derrian James led off with a single. Spruill struck out, Hagler took first when the pitcher hit him, and Cage flied out to right. Four of the next five batters singled, while Randy Ventura walked. The big hit of the inning was catcher Ely Whitmire’s two RBI single.
On the mound, Kolbe Schufft earned his second win of the season for the Ponies, a complete game performance. Schufft scattered four hits and surrendered only two runs on Greg Belton’s second homerun of the day.
The Ponies chased starter Maynard in the third when Lugo reached base on an error and scored on a wild pitch. In the fourth, Lugo singled and moved to second on Martens’ walk. Both runners scored when Ventura tripled to the right centerfield gap.
Whitmire closed out the Ponies’ scoring with his third hit of the day, plating Ventura. Sonnier also had three hits on the day. Lugo had two hits and scored three times. In the seventh, James made a spectacular catch on Alberto Sanabria’s drive to the left centerfield gap.
Final Score: Ponies 9, Roadrunners 2
Next up for the Ponies are the Baton Rouge Community College Bears, who travel to Carthage for a doubleheader Saturday, March 16. Both games are scheduled for seven innings. The Ponies will resume conference action Wednesday, March 20, when Northeast Texas Community College comes to town.