, Port Arthur, Texas

April 17, 2012

Port Neches-Groves baseball clinches 20-4A title

David Coleman
The Port Arthur News

PORT NECHES — All season, head coach Mark Brevell has talked about how special his current squad is.

On Tuesday, the Port Neches-Groves baseball team showed just how special, winning the District 20-4A title outright with two games to play after taking down Little Cypress-Mauriceville 4-0 at The Reservation.

PN-G (20-3, 11-0) has a three-game lead on second-place Livingston with two to play, making it impossible for the Lions to catch the Indians for first place.

“I’m kind of speechless right now, ” Brevell said, minutes after his players doused him with gatorade. “I’m just really happy for all of these guys, but mainly for the seniors, They’ve got the best attitudes of just about any group I’ve been around. Any thing good that happens to this group of kids, they deserve.”

The team wasn’t content with just dousing the coach, as many of them decided on a celebratory jump into the canal behind the baseball field.

Senior right-hander Jayce Nelson led the way on the watery jump, just like he did on  the mound and at the plate for the Indians against LC-M. Nelson threw a complete-game shutout, allowing just five hits with one walk, two hit batsmen and four strikeouts.

“It hurt last year not winning district,” Nelson said. “It feels great to win it, especially going undefeated so far. No one (on this team) is selfish. No one asks about their own stuff, they just worry about the team winning. That’s why we’re so special.”

Nelson also led the way at the plate, breaking open a tight 1-0 contest with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the fourth. He knocked in another run in the bottom of the fifth with a sacrifice fly to left that allowed senior shortstop Daniel Sparrow to score from third.

“It was a great job of him on the mound, but it was a great job by everyone behind him,” Brevell said.

“We played great defense and made a lot of plays for him. It’s like I’ve been saying all year, it’s a great team effort. This is a great group of guys. They just go out and win games.”

LC-M starter Brandon Humphrey matched Nelson blow for blow until the pivotal fourth. The only run scored before then came in the bottom of the first without an official hit.

Sparrow led off the inning by reaching on an error by the LC-M shortstop, followed by third baseman Grant Guidry getting plunked. A wild pitch moved both runners up a base, giving PN-G runners on second and third with no outs.

Designated hitter Aaron Graham put the Indians on the board with a sacrifice fly to shallow right field, letting Sparrow score another run. The shortstop finished 1 for 3 with a double, a stolen base and two runs scored.

Humphrey finished the game with 3 1/3 innings, allowing two hits with four strikeouts.

The Bears threatened in both the fourth, fifth and seventh innings. In the fourth, LC-M got first baseman Alex Blem all the way to third before Nelson coaxed a foul pop fly out of Ryan Carline for the inning’s final out.

In the fifth, LC-M mounted its most serious threat, loading the bases with one out. But, Nelson’s defense picked him up as Sparrow made a great play on a grounder up the middle, stepping on second and throwing to first for the double play to end the inning.

In the Bears’ final at-bat, leadoff hitter Carline reached after getting hit by a Nelson pitch. Left fielder Reid Fults blasted a 0-1 pitch on a line into left, where Indians left fielder Chase Bertrand made the game’s best play. The senior dove into the gap to catch the quickly sinking liner, almost doing a somersault while holding onto the ball for the innings’ first out.

PN-G will play at Vidor at 5:30 p.m. Friday.