The Port Arthur News
HOUSTON — Mitchell Sanderson suffered one hard-luck loss this playoffs already. The senior right-hander was determined not to let it happen again.
Sanderson struck out 12 batters in a dominant performance as his Nederland Bulldogs beat Hutto 8-0 in Game 1 of a three-game Class 4A area round playoff series Friday at the Baseball USA complex in Houston.
Sanderson scattered four hits across his seven innings of work, allowing no hits or walks. He now has 117 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings this season.
“I felt pretty good out there,” Sanderson said. “I felt as good late in the game as I did at the beginning. People tell me I have a rubber arm, but I felt like I could keep throwing out there. My fastball was working well, which was good, because I couldn’t throw my breaking pitch for a strike.”
Nederland (25-5) will play Hutto (20-11) in Game 2 at 3 p.m. Saturday back at Baseball USA. Game 3, if necessary, will be played 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 2.
Sanderson also struck out 12 last week in a 2-0 loss to Dayton. In that game, his teammates could not push across any runs and a couple runs came in due to errors.
“Mitchell threw the ball well,” Nederland head coach Cody Robbins said. “He’s thrown well all year. He did a great job of keeping the ball down. He threw his fastball for strikes and slider for strikes. He threw his change to keep them off-balance. It was a great performance by him.”
This week, it was Nederland benefitting from Hutto’s errors, as the Hippos committed two in the first inning and four total. Those two first-inning errors led to three unearned runs as Nederland sent nine batters to the plate.
In the bottom of the first, Nederland right fielder Jordan Wood hit a two-out double down the right field line. The next batter, catcher Brian Feltman, hit a hot shot to the Hutto third baseman, who could not come up with the ball, allowing Feltman to reach safely and Wood to move to third.
The next batter, Aaron Sampere, hit another ball to the third baseman. This time, the Hutto fielder sailed his throw to first, allowing Wood to score easily and make it 1-0 Nederland.
The next batter, Sanderson, struck out, but the catcher could not hang onto the ball, allowing Feltman to score from third for the inning’s second run. Shortstop Brandon Self drove in the third run legitimately, lacing a single to center field.
“I told the kids that we’ll enjoy this one on the way home,” Robbins said. “When we get to Nederland, we’re going to refocus on tomorrow, because we haven’t clinched anything. They’re a team that’s been in this position before and won two against Magnolia. They’re going to show up tomorrow ready to play and we have to be prepared.”
Nederland got another run in the bottom of the third, as Aaron Sampere scored on another bad Hutto defensive play. Bulldog shortstop Self hit a shot to the Hippo shortstop with runners on second and third. The Hutto shortstop fired to first for the inning’s second out.
Sanderson ran back to second after getting caught off the bag, but the throw by the Hutto first baseman back to second was off-line, rolling into right field. That allowed Sampere to score easily from third and make it 4-0 Nederland.
The scoring continued in the bottom of the fourth as Michael Shaw led things off with a bunt single, scoring two batters later on Carson Raines’ single up the middle. Two more singles drove in another two runs, making it 7-0 Nederland.
Raines finished the game 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored. Jordan Wood was 2 for 4 with a double and two runs scored while Sampere was 2 for 4 with two runs scored. Sanderson was 1 for 3 at the plate with a double.
Nederland 8, Hutto 0
Hutto 000 000 0 -- 0 4 4
Nederland 301 301 X -- 8 10 1
Rylee Nance, Chris Pisella (4) and Tony Beam; Mitchell Sanderson and Brian Feltman. W – Sanderson. L – Nance.
Leading hitters: NEDERLAND – Carson Raines 2 for 4, 2B, run scored; Sanderson 1 for 3, 2B, BB; Feltman 2 for 4, RBI, run scored. HUTTO – Alex Orton 1 for 3; Hayden Doggett 1 for 3, 2B; Tony Beam 1 for 2, 2B.
Records: Nederland (25-5), Hutto (20-11).