By Brian Besch
The Livingston Lions broke out the brooms Saturday at Grand Oaks High School, defeating Navasota 9-2 to end the area round in two games.
"Every team is a good team and this is round two of the playoffs," Livingston coach Wade Halfmann said. "They earned their way here and so did we, and we were the better team this round. There were some ups and downs, but the bottom line is that our guys came to compete."
The Lions are finding ways to get on base through walks or even a few batters taking some bruises when hit by a pitch. Though they only had eight hits, there were plenty of candidates to score their nine runs.
"We don't care how (they reach base) and 90 feet is all that matters to us," Halfmann said. "We want to get the next guy up."
That showed in the second inning, as the Lions took a 3-0 lead on just one base hit. Cooper Brown walked, Jacob Haynes was beaned, Jordan Huson grounded into a fielder's choice and Gage Morris was also hit by a pitch to load the bases.
When Tay McNeal was hit by a pitch, the third of the inning, a run scored. That brought up Damian Ruiz, who singled to bring in two.
Halfmann said that going forward, his hope is that his pitchers can get ahead early in the count.
Saturday's starter Blake Compton was around 100 pitches in five frames Saturday and Tyler Seek was pulled after six Friday because he had reached the pitch limit.
"We are getting a little too deep into counts, if I am to be picky," Halfmann said. "The fight that they show, when they are 2-0 or 3-0 to get right back in it, is amazing. That is a testament to them and the way that they want to fight."
Compton worked out of trouble in the first inning, escaping from a bases-loaded jam with just one out unscathed. The only Rattler run off Compton would come in the third inning by way of sacrifice fly.
Livingston scored two more runs in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings. The last Lion runs were off the bat of Ruiz, who slugged a two-run homer over the wall in left field.
Now in the regional quarterfinals, Livingston is set to face Bellville. They were winners in two of the three games over Hamshire-Fannett, with a 7-3 triumph to clinch. The Brahmas were champions of District 24-4A.