Take that! Roccaforte pushes PNG into 5A Region III final; Vidrine goes distance again

Published 12:01 am Sunday, May 28, 2017

CROSBY — Port Neches-Groves made it a series, and a freshman helped finish it off.

Carson Roccaforte took a one-ball, two-strike pitch and hit a two-run double in the top of the seventh, and Nathan Vidrine threw another season-saving complete game in the Indians’ 2-0 win over Tomball on Saturday afternoon in a 5A Region III semifinal at The Ballpark in Crosby.

“I was just trying to throw something to the left side and get the runner in from second to help us get a run in to go into the [bottom of the] seventh and help Nathan Vidrine shut it out,” said Roccaforte, the freshman who started at right field.

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“The fans really helped us. They were electric and I just kind of settled in and did what we needed to do.”

Vidrine threw 65 pitches in the victory but did not strike out anyone. He went the distance in Game 3 of the area round against Manvel and saved the season again in Game 2 of the regional quarterfinal against Barbers Hill.

“I think me and coach [Scott] Carter have a bunch of confidence in me,” the Alvin Community College signee said. “My teammates trust me, and I trust them. That’s what helps me through the game.”

The victory makes PNG’s playoff run its longest since playing in the 2004 state semifinal round and gives Carter one of his most satisfying feats in 27 years as a head coach (four at PNG).

“A win like this is huge for this ballclub,” Carter said. “It’s good for our program. We just beat a team that has a lot of tradition. They went to the state tournament two years ago, they were in the regional finals last year, and to come out here and do what we did and take two from them was huge and very emotional.”

Once Trevor Martin caught a pop-up at shortstop to end the game, Carter showed some emotion on the steps of the dugout and celebrated the win with his assistant coaches and players.

Vidrine worked a three-up, three down seventh to win.

“Nathan Vidrine is our go-to guy,” Carter said. “We like Nathan in a clutch situation. We flipped the script today and went with [Josh] Hranicky in Game 2, and he did a great job for us.”

Earlier Saturday, Hranicky made another strong start for his 10th win of the season, and Brandon Petix closed the door on Tomball as the Indians took a 5-1 victory Saturday in Game 2. Hranicky held the Cougars (28-12) to one earned run on four hits and struck out three in 5 1/3 innings. Petix gave up the other Tomball hit.

“Hranicky threw a really good game, so that put pressure on me to come out here and follow up,” Vidrine said. “I just wanted to get through with my teammates, who could help me.”

Not that he visibly showed he was under pressure.

“Yeah, I’m a real shy guy,” Vidrine said.

Hranicky also had a solid offensive game, batting 2 for 3 and driving in a run as the only multiple hitter for either side. Brandon Morse drove in two runs, as he, Hayden Guerra, Logan LeJeune, Jacob Vaughan and Vidrine each collected a hit.

Holden Lane, Bost, Roccaforte and Vidrine each had a hit in Game 3.

Zack Diaz was the hard luck loser in Game 3, striking out two in a complete-game effort. Tomball used three pitchers in Game 2.

Now, PNG (30-8-2) will play Brenham in next week’s regional final, the last round before the state semifinals. Brenham won in three games.

In Game 2, PNG scored four runs in the third and one in the fourth, rebounding nicely from being held to one hit in a 6-1 Game 1 defeat Friday night.

What could have been the message for trying to take two after a tough defeat?

“It’s a different day,” Roccaforte said. “Come out, ready to play. Take two and advance to the next round.”


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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