HENDERSON — The Nacogdoches American 11U All-Stars got off to a rocky start in their District 11 opener Friday night, falling behind 4-0 in the opening frame, and were never able to claw their way back as they dropped a 7-2 decision to the Bullard All-Stars.
But the second day of the three-day tournament was a completely different story. Despite having to battle all the way back in the losers’ bracket, Nac rolled to consecutive victories over Chapel Hill, 20-3, and host-team Henderson, 18-9, and will advance into today’s championship round. Bullard defeated Henderson in the second round to advance to the title matchup.
Tyren Mathews jumpstarted the Nacogdoches attack in the win over Chapel Hill, blasting a three-run home run to lead the offensive assault.
Nacogdoches will square off against Bullard today at 2 p.m. in a rematch of Friday night’s opener and give Nac a chance for some revenge. For Nacogdoches to capture the championship, they will have to defeat Bullard twice in the double-elimination format.
With the double wins on Saturday, Both Nac and Bullard have already clinched spots in the State Tournament, set for July 6-8 in Texarkana.
Nac was only outhit 5-4 in the matchup on Friday and had several opportunities to push runs across the dish to close the deficit, but couldn’t finish off innings. The all-stars left seven baserunners stranded throughout the six-innings.
Four different Nacogdoches American players accounted for the team’s four hits. Shelton Beavers had a 1-for-2 contest, while drawing a walk. Clean-up hitter Kolton Karns was 1-for-3, while driving in a run, while Slade Perry pushed in a run in a 1-for-3 game. Ayden Stroud singled in three at-bats.
Nacogdoches’ Mathews walked and stole a base and Trenton Hawk scored both of the squad’s runs, while drawing a pair of walks.
Other players participating in the contest for Nacogdoches included Grant Copen, Sage Swift, Coen Robinson and Kase Lunsford.
Mathews was the losing pitcher on the hill for the Nac American. He started the game and settled down after a rough opening frame. He worked three innings, allowing five runs on four hits, with three strikeouts and a pair of walks. After giving up four runs in the first inning, he threw a hitless second frame and allowed one run on one hit in the third.
Beavers came out of the bullpen in the fourth inning with Nacogdoches trailing 5-1, but he struggled to throw strikes. He gave up a pair of runs on one hit, while hitting a batter and walking two.
Perry finished the game strong, working the final two innings. He did not allow a hit or a walk, while fanning two opponents and keeping Nacogdoches in the game.
After trailing 4-0 heading into the third, Nacogdoches bounced back with a run in the top of the frame to pull to within 4-1. Hawk walked to lead off and moved to second when the Bullard pitcher attempted to pick him off and the throw got past the first baseman. After a strikeout, Mathews walked and both players moved up in an infield single by Perry. Hawk then crossed the plate when Karns posted an infield single.
Bullard scored twice in the fourth to stretch the lead to 7-1, but the Nacogdoches American team wasn’t finished yet. Hawk again reached on a walk in the fifth inning, moving to second on a wild pitch. He advanced to third when Mathews reached base on an error and he scored when Perry grounded out to the shortstop.