The Port Arthur News
Two outs. Two strikes and two balls. The Nederland Bulldogs faced this in the bottom of the seventh with no hits against Port Neches-Groves starter Ryan Leckich.
Bulldogs catcher Brian Feltman stayed calmed and came up with the only hit surrendered by Leckich in a 4-1 Indians victory.
After the game Leckich did not care one bit about the one hit or the lost no-hitter with two outs and two strikes.
“We won the game against Nederland,” Leckich said. “That is all that matters.”
Leckich said his confidence and comfort level grew as the game went along and the Indians had a 2-1 lead after four and 4-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth.
“Four runs was all we needed tonight,” Leckich said. “Four runs will usually win games for us because of the depth we have in pitching. Our defense played a fantastic game behind me tonight.”
Leckich struck out 11 batters and walked four on 108 pitches for the Indians who are now 4-0 in District 20-4A play.
Nederland also had a spectacular pitching performance Friday night.
Korey Clark went the distance for the Bulldogs (1-3) and gave up only three hits with eight strike outs and one walk.
“My hat goes off to Korey Clark,” Nederland coach Cody Robbins said. “That was his best performance of the season. We had one bad inning that really turned this game around.”
The bad inning referenced by Robbins was the top of the sixth with PN-G up 2-1.
PN-G’s first three batters of the sixth reached base on three straight errors to load the bases with no outs.
Corbin Coy then drew a RBI walk before Michael Hughes then slapped a RBI single into right-centerfield.
The damage was done but Robbins was impressed with the fact his team limited the scoring to just two runs. Henry struck out two of the next three batters and got a pop up to second to finish off the first half of the sixth.
“To only give up two in that inning was really impressive,” Robbins said. “We did a great job to minimize the damage.”
The night though belonged to Leckich and the Indians.
Nederland’s lone run came in the bottom of the fourth on a double steal. Braden Nevala scored when Brett Smith took off from first to steal second and PN-G elected to try to get the out.
Nevala easily scored to make it 2-1 Indians.
Leckich did not let the situation get to him as he struck out Clark to end the inning with Smith standing on second.
“Nothing really phased me tonight,” Leckich said.
This was the first start for Leckich in Nederland against his rival Bulldogs. This type of performance will stick with him for the rest of his life.
“It was an unreal night,” Leckich added. “I have experience here. I came in for two innings of relief last year and I know many of their players. They are a good team. I never paid attention to the situation of the no-hitter and was always focused on getting the win.”
PN-G coach Scott Carter was very impressed with the night Leckich had on the mound and a timely hit by Carter Henry.
“He (Leckich) pitched a gem tonight,” Carter said. “He was able to make adjustments throughout the game that was the difference. He had a couple of situations where he thought he had thrown a strike but it was called a ball. He didn’t let it get to him and made the adjustment and came back with a strike.
“Henry’s hit in the top of the fourth was huge for us and him. A two-run double was big at that point.”
Henry came to bat with two outs and Logan Chipman on third and Coy on second.
Henry ripped a double to left-centerfield to make it 2-0 Indians in the top of the fourth.
“It was a team effort tonight,” Carter said. “Everyone knows our pitching is our strength. It is a great thing to know we had Logan Ashworth ready to come in if needed. The more runs we put on the board the more comfortable our pitchers tend to get in a game. I am not sure Coach Carter is ever comfortable. We are certainly built around our pitching and that is a great thing to have.”
Nederland will seek its second district win Tuesday night at Beaumont Ozen while PN-G will look to remain perfect in 20-4A when it plays host to Vidor.