The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
Once again, the Port Neches-Groves baseball team will be down to a single go-big-or-go-go-home playoff matchup, as the Indians play a one game series against Georgetown in the Class 4A area round.
The Indians will not only be fighting to advance against the Eagles, they’ll also be fighting the momentum Georgetown has built up all school year in its athletics program.
It’s been a banner year for Georgetown athletics, as the football team made the state finals, the basketball team made it to the Region III finals and now the baseball team finds itself in the area round looking for more.
Georgetown (26-8) cruised into a District 17-4A title, winning 12 straight games before dropping its second-to-last district contest to Bastrop. The Eagles didn’t take long to get revenge, beating Bastrop two days later 3-2 to finish the regular season with a victory.
That run continued with a two-game sweep of Caney Creek in the area round. Georgetown won the games by scores of 10-3 and 9-1, with Brandon Boone and Braden Pearson picking up victories.
That scoring output is no fluke, either, as Georgetown has averaged 6.6 runs per game this season. The Eagles have a run differential in their 35 games of 121, which means they’ve outscored opponents by an average of 3.5 runs per game this season.
Georgetown has done that through a combination of strong pitching and a potent offense. Senior Trey Hicks leads the way at the plate for the Eagles. The senior hit a home run and a double while driving in six runs against Caney Creek. For the season, Hicks is hitting .368 with a .457 on-base percentage and a .632 slugging percentage.
Hicks leads the Eagles with three home runs, but senior Brent Ellerbee leads them in most other categories. Ellerbee has a team-high .422 batting average with an on-base percentage of .559 and a slugging percentage of .756, all team highs. He’s got 10 extra base hits on the season, including three triples and one home run.
But, the Georgetown offense has more than just power. Four different Eagle hitters, including Matt Sanchez, Sam McDonnell, Kyle Blackmon and Wilkes Swaim have at least 20 steals on the season.
Meanwhile, the pitching has also been lights-out. While Pearson and Boone both got victories in that three-game series with Caney Creek, it’s junior Jako Kelm that was the staff ace this season. Kelm is 8-0 on the season with a 2.05 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 41 innings.
Pearson has been nearly as good, with a 4-1 record and a 2.31 ERA in 39 innings with 35 strikeouts. Hicks also serves as the team’s closer, picking up four saves with a 2-0 record and a 0.88 ERA in eight innings of work.
Since the two decided on a one-game series, it suggests that Kelm will likely start against the Indians Friday, with both Pearson and Boone available in relief. However, the edge in pitching may belong to PN-G.
By going into another one-game series, the Indians can stack their three best pitchers into one game, much like they did last week against Summer Creek. With freshman phenom Ryan Leckich starting against the Bulldogs, PN-G head coach Mark Brevell was able to bring in both Logan Ashworth and Lance Ledoux in relief.
Mixing up Leckich, a deceptively fast lefty with late movement, and Ashworth, a power righty, gives Brevell a chance to keep the other team offbalance while not stretching his freshman out too much. It also lets the freshman gain experience from starting a big game while having plenty of backup options.
Of course, the pitching for PN-G may be irrelevant if the Indians keep scoring runs in bunches. PN-G has averaged six runs per game in its last three, including topping eight runs in two of those games.