By Brian Besch
Big Sandy baseball captured the District 25-2A title with a 3-1 victory over the West Hardin Oilers Monday night at Kountze High School.
“This was supposed to be a down year for us,” Big Sandy coach Will McInnis said. “I am just super proud of our guys. We fought through some games and had some really close games with some opponents, but we’ve battled through that. With Evadale, we played 12 innings with them and that was a marathon. These guys are very resilient and when they get down, they fight back.”
West Hardin scored their only run in the top of the first with a hit by pitch and single that gave each runner two bases after an error. A squeeze bunt brought in the Oiler run. There was a walk to load the bases, but starting pitcher Tony Carter was able to work out of the jam.
Big Sandy responded in the bottom half of the inning as Jason Valderez singled and a wild pitch moved him up. Nick Ortiz reached on error, and a second error off the bat of Andrew Gulley tied the game at one.
The Wildcats threatened again in the next inning by loading the bases, but could not get a run across. West Hardin put two runners in scoring position with no one out in the top of the third, but also could not put runs on the board. The bottom of the third was the same story, as the ‘Cats left two runners in scoring position.
However, Big Sandy would finally break through in the bottom of the fourth on a walk by Brycen Holifield and infield single by Ortiz. Carter delivered a two-run double that would give his team the lead for good.
The Oilers threatened in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Carter was relieved by Hunter Brown in the top of the fifth after consecutive singles. Brown recorded three outs to get out of that frame. In the top of the sixth, the bases were loaded before the third out was recorded. In the final inning, three Oilers reached base before Brown registered a strikeout to end the game with a district title.
“Tony Carter was big for us tonight,” McInnis said. “He is our senior and he has been big for us all year – so has Hunter Brown. (Brown) getting three outs in a row (in the fifth inning) was huge for us. Those two guys were phenomenal.
“I cannot say enough about these guys. They don’t get rattled. They are very persistent and when they get down, they just chip away. They aren’t just trying for a big swing, we are just trying to get on base and going from there.”