PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

April 22, 2013

PREP HARDBALL NOTEBOOK: Testing causes shift in schedule

David Coleman
The Port Arthur News

Another round of school testing will affect the high school baseball schedule this week. Because of the STAAR/TAKS testing going on this week around Texas, baseball teams in the area moved games up to Monday.

Most of District 20-4A will start at 4:30 p.m. Monday and the Port Neches-Groves game at Beaumont Ozen will start then. Nederland moved its game against Lumberton back 30 minutes to 5 p.m., because the game will be Senior Night, honoring the players and parents of graduating seniors.

PN-G is still in second place in 20-4A, three games behind the district champion Bulldogs. If PN-G wins its next two games against Ozen and Livingston, the Indians will clinch that second seed outright. More importantly, with a victory over Ozen, the Indians will clinch a playoff berth.

Memorial’s baseball game against Beaumont West Brook was already scheduled for Monday at 5 p.m. The Titans are still mathematically in the playoff hunt, but their chances of making the postseason took a big hit with the loss to Baytown Sterling.

Now, the Titans need to win its last two games this season and get some help via a Sterling loss. The Rangers close the season at West Brook on Friday.

The 20-4A softball teams already had off-time built into their schedules, but will need to get in their bidistict matchups by April 30. That may lead to games being played on Friday for a three-game series. But, since 19-4A’s seeding still hasn’t been decided, no schedules have been set for PN-G and Nederland softball.

Leckich has sneaky stuff

Watch PN-G freshman lefty Ryan Leckich and you won’t necessarily be blown away at first. He’s got an easy delivery and doesn’t have a 100-MPH fastball.

However, the results tell a different story. Leckich just doesn’t give up hits and watching him twice this week, it’s easy to see why. The lefty rarely lets a batter square up on the ball.

That’s for two reasons. The first is his fastball has plenty of late life, with nice run in on the hands of right-handed hitters. That helps keep a hitter off-balance and the ball from meeting the barrel of the bat.

The second reason, per PN-G head coach Mark Brevell, is that while Leckich may not look like he’s throwing hard, he can actually bring quite a bit of velocity on his fastball. That can sneak up on hitters and knock their timing off just enough, leading to outs.

Notes from another extra-inning affair

Two extra-inning games decided with a walkoff hit? That’s just one of the many reasons why this year’s Mid-County Madness baseball series was so compelling. Here are some other thoughts and stats from two of the most entertaining games in the area this season.

In 23 innings across two games, the two teams combined for just five extra-base hits in 151 total at-bats. Ten different pitchers appeared in the two games with Mitchell Sanderson topping all pitchers with 9 1/3 innings of work.

The two teams combined for 57 strikeouts in those 23 innings. Nine of the 13 pitcher appearances in the series had two or more strikeouts, topped by Nederland’s Carson Raines, who had 11. Both Leckich and Sanderson had 10 strikeouts.

Five batters had two or more hits in a game. Raines had three hits in the second matchup, going 3 for 6 with a double. Raines was 0 for 2 with two walks in the first game. PN-G’s Daniel Mullins combined to get three hits as well between the two games. Mullins was 2 for 5 with an RBI in last Tuesdays game and was 1 for 5 in the first matchup.

Those were just a few of the things that made these two games so great. Suffice it to say that Mid-County Madness lived up to its billing.

Video helps clarify plays

Speaking of Mid-County Madness, I was reminded of how important replay can be for games with a play that almost made it into my game story of that epic contest. I’m glad I didn’t mention it, because in reviewing what happened, I would have gotten it wrong.

The play in question came in the fourth inning. Nederland had the bases loaded and one out with second baseman Michael Shaw at the plate. Nederland head coach Cody Robbins put the squeeze play on, sending the runner from third and asking Shaw to lay down a bunt.

The ball then popped up. That’s when things diverged in my memory and the video I shot of it with Vine, an application for my mobile phone. What I thought, seeing it in real time, is that PN-G catcher Yancey Foster ran down the third base line to catch the ball in foul territory before firing to third for the third out.

What actually happened, courtesy of the video, is that charging third baseman Mason Vizena really caught the ball before turning and firing to shortstop Dylan Saatzer, who had run over to cover third. I guess you could call me an unreliable narrator on that one.

While I’m at it, a similar thing happened in the Vidor/PN-G game story from Saturday’s paper, except I did write about it this time.

Incorrectly.

I mentioned the lone PN-G run happening after Yancey Foster, Kaleb Clark and Corbin Coy walked. When Ky Walker was hit by a pitch, I said he drove in Foster to make it 1-0 PN-G. The only problem was that Foster didn’t score the run; courtesy runner Lance Ledoux did. What makes me mad about that mistake is that I got it right on Twitter when I posted a Vine video of the paly. I just apparently couldn’t get it right hours later in the game story.

David Coleman is a sports writer for the Port Arthur News. He can be emailed at dcoleman@panews.com and found on Twitter at @MDavidColeman.