The Port Arthur News
In the nine years that Nederland head baseball coach Cody Robbins has been on the job, he’s taken his team to the playoffs seven times.
That includes post-season berths in each of the last five seasons, but there’s been something else cropping up in Robbins’ playoff trips.
He can’t seem to avoid facing Montgomery. When Nederland plays the Bears in the regional quarterfinals this week, it will be the fourth time the two teams have met in the Class 4A playoffs since 2005.
“There’s history with Montgomery dating back to 2005,” Robbins said, after his team beat Hutto in the area round last Saturday. “It’s a good history. There have been some battles. Here we are again. They’re a good baseball team. We’ll see what happens.”
Going back to 1988, Nederland had only played Montgomery three times in the playoffs before this season and all of those meetings have come on Robbins’ watch.
The first was in 2005. Nederland came into those playoffs ranked No. 2 in the state and a District 20-4A title. The Bulldogs dispatched New Caney in the area round after getting a bye for bidistrict.
Montgomery, meanwhile, had won 18-4A’s title and then beat Little Cypress-Mauriceville in a three-game series to advance to the regional quarterfinals against Nederland.
The two teams played a home-and-home series and that first game, played in Nederland, was the most memorable. Montgomery won 2-1 in 13 innings thanks to great pitching from five different guys, including Michael Heard, Cody Springer, James Schroeder, Travis Galloway and then-freshman Bobby Stone, who picked up the victory in relief.
Montgomery won Game 2 11-8, then advanced all the way to the state tournament. There, the Bears lost to Waco Midway in the state semifinals.
The very next season, Montgomery and Nederland again met in the regional quarterfinals. This time, Nederland was coming off a runner-up finish in 20-4A, forcing the Bulldogs to play Dayton in bidistrict. Nederland beat the Broncos in a one-game series before topping 17-4A champ Kilgore in another one-game series to face Montgomery.
The Bears, too, dropped to 18-4A’s runner-up in 2006, beating Hallsville in bidistrict play and then topping Galena Park in the area round to set up the battle with Nederland.
The Bulldogs took Game 1 in 2006 by shutting out the Bears 2-0 behind a two-hitter from Matison Smith. However, Nederland dropped the final two games by a combined score of 19-8, with Montgomery winning the clincher 13-4.
Things didn’t work out as well for Montgomery after passing Nederland that year, though, as the Bears fell to state semifinalist Channelview in the next round.
The 2009 matchup between Montgomery and Nederland was different for a couple of reasons. For one, it took place in the area round of the playoffs. The first two matchups were all one round later, in the regional quarterfinals.
It was also different because Nederland won.
In the only one-game playoff series the two teams have played so far, Nederland beat the Bears 5-1 behind a great pitching performance by Kirby Bellow and good hitting nights from Jude Vidrine and Stephen Schlett.
Bellow struck out 10 in the complete-game victory while Vidrine had a two-run double in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach.
Nederland entered the third matchup having won the District 20-4A title. The Bulldogs beat C.E. King in the bidistrict round before facing 18-4A’s third place finisher Montgomery, who beat San Marcos in bidistrict play.
After taking down Montgomery, Nederland went on a run to the regional finals before losing to Brenham.
Friday begins matchup No. 4. If history is any indication, the winner could be in for a long playoff run.