Two Pitchers Combine on One-Hitter
By Will Johnson
NORTH ZULCH – Some days, it’s the pitching. Other days, it’s the hitting. Still other days, they both come together and you have the kind of game the Grapeland Sandies had on Friday night.
At the plate, the Sandies pounded out 11 hits which led to 11 runs. Equally as impressive, two Grapeland pitchers – Cameron Navarette and Peyton Prater – combined to throw a one-hit shutout with 17 Ks as they defeated the North Zulch Bulldogs 11-0 in a District 21-2A matchup.
It didn’t take long for the Sandies’ offense to get cranked up as Cole Goolsby led off the game with a single to center. He moved to second when the Bulldogs’ starting pitcher – Corbin May – plunked Cameron Navarette with a pitch.
Cooper Sheridan moved the runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt and Goolsby trotted home when May was called for a balk. Navarette moved to third on the play and Matthew Gardner came in as a courtesy runner for Navarette.
Jayce Elliott was up next and grounded into a 6-3 force which gave Gardner enough time to sprint home and make the score 2-0.
After Jason DeCluette flew out to end the top of the first, the Sandies sent Navarette to the mound. The first batter he faced, Riley Mooney, reached on an error. The next two batters in the lineup fanned, holding Mooney at first. A fielder’s choice advanced Mooney to second, but Navarette came back to strike out Trainer Malinak on three pitches to end the inning.
Grapeland tacked on another run in the second to extend their lead to 3-0. Peyton Prater grounded out to short to lead off the top half of the inning and Jacob Vaden followed with a called strike-out.
It’s been said two-out hits will get you to heaven and if that’s the case, the Sandies are living right. Jax Vickers was up next and singled to left. Slade Harris followed with a single of his own which advanced Vickers to third. An error in left allowed Vickers to cross the dish as Harris slid safely into third.
That was all Grapeland could squeeze out of the inning and brought North Zulch in from the field.
Navarette was back on the mound for Grapeland and after a lead-off walk to Dallas Drake, the Sandies’ hurler struck out Braxton Brookman along with Jason Ray for two quick outs.
A walk to Tripp Baker moved Drake into scoring position, but on a 1-2 pitch, Navarette coaxed Mooney to ground into a 4-3 force to end the frame.
Two more runs in the top of the third extended the Grapeland margin to 5-0. Sheridan grounded out to open up the inning while Elliott followed with a double into the left-centerfield gap. DeCluette followed with a double of his own to drive in Elliott.
A dropped third strike allowed Prater to sprint down the first base line and reach safely while DeCluette moved to third. Vaden was up next in the order. On the third pitch he saw, Vaden lofted a fly ball to left, which was deep enough for DeCluette to tag up and score from third, putting the Sandies up by five.
Following a ground out from Harris, Navarette went back to work. He struck out River Gafford to open the bottom of the third but then found a little trouble. He hit May with a pitch, but followed up with a K of Lane Van.
Malinak was up next and was also hit by a pitch. Navarette then walked Drake to load the bases. The next batter was Brookman and on a 2-2 pitch Navarette caught him looking as strike three whizzed by for the final out of the third.
After a three-up, three-down top of the fourth, the Sandies took the field and changed pitchers, bringing on Prater to finish out the game.
Prater retired the first two batters he faced on six pitches, as he caught both Ray and Baker looking at strike three. Mooney was up next and hit a soft liner to Navarette – now at second base – to send the game into the fifth inning.
Following a non-productive top of the fifth for Grapeland, Prater went back to work, mowing down the Bulldogs lineup. He forced Gafford to swing and miss at three pitches, but yielded a seeing-eye single to May. May never made it past first base, however, as Prater struck out both Van and Malinak to end the fifth.
When the Sandies came to bat in the top of the sixth, they put the game away. Vaden led off and was hit by a pitch. Vickers was up next and singled through the infield to advance Vaden. An error by North Zulch allowed Slade Harris to reach safely and load the bases.
Goolsby was up next and doubled into left to plate Vaden, Vickers and Harris. After Goolsby stole third, Navarette grounded into a 5-3 force allowing Goolsby to hustle in from third. That was all the Sandies could get from their at-bat as they took a 9-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth.
Prater returned in the bottom of the sixth and recorded a one pitch out when Drake fouled out to DeCluette at first base. The next two batters – Brookman and Ray – were both caught looking at a called third strike, sending the game into the final inning of play.
The Sandies tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh to push the lead out to 11-0 and when Grapeland took the field, Prater had another easy inning as he sandwiched a groundout between two strikeouts to end the game.
Corbin May took the loss for North Zulch as he worked five innings, giving up seven runs on seven hits to go along with six strikeouts.
Braxton Brookman worked 1.1 innings of relief for the Bulldogs giving up four runs on four hits and walking one while River Gafford recorded the final two outs of the game for North Zulch.
Cameron Navarette and Peyton Prater combined for seven innings to shut out the Bulldogs on one hit. Navarette worked three hitless innings, striking out eight and walking three. Prater got the win in relief with four innings of work. He only allowed one hit while striking out nine and not walking anyone.
The Sandies were led at the plate by Jax Vickers who was 4-4 with four runs scored and one RBI. Cole Goolsby also had a good night with the bat as he went 2-4 with two runs scored and two RBI. Slade Harris was also 2-4, with a run scored.
The win moves Grapeland to 6-1 on the season and 3-1 in District 21-2A.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.