Aaron Sampere provided the power while Jared Ramoin brought the glove and a duo of Nederland pitchers kept Dayton in check for a thrilling 4-3 victory in Game 3 of a three-game Class 4A bidistrict playoff series on Saturday at Metreyeon Delahoussaye Field.
Sampere hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first to give his Bulldogs a 4-1 lead. That was also the last run Nederland would score in the game as the Bulldogs switched to pitching and defense to make sure they advanced past the Broncos.
Nederland (24-5) will play Hutto, who beat Magnolia in a three-game series, in the area round next week at a site and time to be determined.
“I can’t be more proud of our kids,” Nederland head coach Cody Robbins said. “No matter what me and Coach (Brian) Spell do, the kids have to perform. I felt like they did their jobs. Hats off to Dayton, though. They’re a scrappy team. What more can you ask from a three game series? That was some great baseball and I thought it was a good series. We’re fortunate to come out on top.”
Credit starting pitcher Gabe Nevala for keeping his team in position to win. The senior right-hander threw five innings, striking out six while allowing five hits, three runs and three walks.
Nevala had thrown about 20 pitches the night before to pick up a save in Nederland’s 6-4 win over Dayton.
“Gabe did a great job today,” Robbins said. “He usually throws a bullpen the day before his start, so he just threw those pitches in the game instead of in the bullpen. If he would have been up to 40-50 pitches (Friday), he would have been on a pitch count. But, he told me he could have gone six or seven. He gave us what we needed him to do. That was a great job of him stepping up.”
Nevala left in the top of the sixth with runners on first and second. Thursday’s starter Mitchell Sanderson came in from center field at that point. After a wild pitch moved the runners up to second and third, Dayton tried to get a squeeze bunt down. However, Sanderson was able to pitch around Dayton right fielder Casey Hicks and quickly got a strikeout.
That’s when Nederland gambled on its defense to carry the day again. Robbins made the call to intentionally walk Dayton leadoff man Bryce Armstrong, setting up a bases loaded situation with no outs.
Sanderson responded by striking out Bronco second baseman Brad Sowell before getting a high chopper to Ramoin at third for the inning’s third out.
Sanderson again worked his magic in the seventh after a leadoff walk and an error put runners on first and second with one out. Sanderson struck out Dayton designated hitter Jordan Trahan before getting a ground out to Ramoin at third again to end the game.
“We’ve been in tight situations before,” Robbins said. “I vividly remember back in the Port Neches game, we loaded the bases twice and got out of it. Looking back on it, there was no choice on what to do. We’ve been there, so I felt comfortable with it. Our kids felt comfortable. I think this team has been in tight ballgames before and they’ve overcome.”
Ramoin ended the last four Dayton at-bats with great defensive plays. He ended the top of the fifth by grabbing a grounder right at him with one out and the bases loaded.
The third baseman then fired home for the second out before catcher Brian Feltman threw to first for the inning ending double play.
His best, though, came with no outs in the top of the fourth. After a leadoff single by Dayton’s Blake Schmidt, Ramoin made a diving stop on a ball hit to his left, popped to his knees and threw Schmidt out at second.
“Jared has played well for us all year at third,” Robbins said. “He’s made plays like that all year. But, he made some great plays today. Typically, high school third baseman don’t make those kinds of plays. He’s in a third base rotation over there with Jordan Wood, and we’re fortunate to have two good players over there.”
Sampere was the big offensive hero of the game. The senior first baseman had three RBIs and reached base five straight times against the Broncos reaching back to Friday night. Sampere finished Saturday 1 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs.
Sophomore Colton Broussard started and batted leadoff for the injured Seth Barrow. Barrow left Friday’s game with an apparent hand injury. The senior was in the dugout with the team Saturday with his hand in a cast. Broussard was 2 for 3 in his absence, scoring a run in the bottom of the first.
Designated hitter Carson Raines was also 1 for 3 with an RBI while Sanderson was 2 for 3 with a double.
Nederland 4, Dayton 3
Dayton 101 010 0 — 3 6 4
Nederland 400 000 X — 4 7 2
Tim Wehmeyer and Kevin Roe; Gabe Nevala, Mitchell Sanderson (6) and Brian Feltman. W — Nevala. L — Wehmeyer. S — Sanderson.
Leading hitters: NEDERLAND — Colton Broussard 2-3, run scored; Aaron Sampere 1-3, HR, 3 RBIs; Mitchell Sanderson 2-3, 2B. DAYTON — Brad Sowell 2-3, HBP, two runs scored; Wehmeyer 1-3, BB, RBI; Bryce Armstrong 1-2, BB, IBB, run scored.
Records: Nederland (24-5); Dayton (20-11).