KILGORE — After rolling to an 11-1 win over Panola County Red in the opening round of the district tournament here at Whataburger Park Friday night, the Nacogdoches National 12U All-Stars appeared to be the team to beat in the six-team tourney.
But six errors on Saturday resulted in Nacogdoches allowing 11 unearned runs to Panola County White as they were forced to dip to the losers’ bracket with an 11-4 setback.
Nacogdoches will be out to shake off those mistakes today when the all-stars play in an elimination semifinal round game at 2 p.m. back at Whataburger Park. Nac will need a win to stay alive, and play again at 6 p.m. for a right to play in the championship round.
It definitely wasn’t a game as expected for the Nacogdoches All-Stars coming off their big win on Friday. Miscues were the difference of this game on Saturday, as the mistakes allowed Panola County to extend its innings and outhit Nacogdoches 11-5.
Nacogdoches had some chances early on. Despite giving up three unearned runs in the top of the first, Nac responded with four runs on three hits and an error in the bottom of the inning to grab its only lead of the game, 4-3.
Landon Nash drove in teammates Connor Hogan and Eli Dawson with a double up the middle, Connor McAninch plated on a passed ball and Nash crossed the plate in the frame on a single by Ben Rodriguez.
Nacogdoches head coach Jason Bridges thought the worst was behind his team, but it turned out to be a day when trouble seemed to follow the Nationals throughout, as Panola White added a pair of runs in the third frame, six in the fourth to keep the game out of reach.
Five different pitchers worked on the hill for Nacogdoches, although none of them gave up earned runs. Brayden Bridges started the game, allowing three unearned runs on three hits, with a walk and three strikeouts in 1.2 frames. Eli Dawson took the loss as he pitched 1.1 innings, giving up five unearned runs on four hits, with a pair of strikeouts.
McAninch also pitched, giving up three unearned runs on a hit and three walks. Bryce Smith worked a frame, allowing just two hits and a walk. And Ben Rodriguez finished the game, allowing a hite and a walk in one inning.
Nacogdoches scattered its five hits between four batters. Hogan, who hit in the lead-off position, led the attack with a 2-for-3 game, scoring a run, while stealing a base. Nash doubled, drove in a pair of runs and stole a base in three at-bats. Chris Sheffield and Rodriguez both had 1-for-2 games at the dish, with Rodriguez driving in a run.
Dawson scored a run and walked, Hunter Nix stole a base and was hit by a pitch and Kaden Willis walked and stole a base.
Other players who played in the game for Nacogdoches National were Slade Pollard, Bryce Smith and Jeremy Marble.
Despite taking the tough loss on Saturday, Nacogdoches is still very much alive in the tournament, but must get it’s defensive game back on track heading into today’s action.