See you Saturday: Vidrine shuts down Wolverines; Indians come back to reach final

Published 9:01 pm Thursday, June 8, 2017

By Michael Sudhalter

Special to The News

ROUND ROCK — Playing in the largest game of his prep baseball career, Nathan Vidrine said he didn’t feel any pressure before 2,282 fans at Dell Diamond.

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The Port Neches-Groves senior pitcher didn’t show any signs of it either during a brilliant performance on the mound Thursday afternoon that secured the Indians’ first trip to a UIL state championship game in 17 years.

The Indians (33-8-2) defeated Frisco Wakeland (38-5-1), 3-2, in the 5A state semifinals. They await defending 5A state champion Grapevine at noon Saturday at Dell Diamond.

Vidrine (8-1; less than 1.40 ERA) relieved junior starter Josh Hranicky, a Lamar commit, in the first inning and pitched 6 1/3 innings of shutout baseball. He struck out three, allowed just three hits and didn’t allow a single walk.

“Vidrine,” PNG head coach Scott Carter said, “was awesome. Our team is never down. We always feel like we can come back.”

The good news for Carter’s deep pitching staff is that Hranicky, who is 11-2 and has played a key role in PNG’s postseason success, will be available for duty in Saturday’s final. Carter has not named a starter yet for Saturday’s final.

Junior Austin Bost put the Indians on the board first in the top of the first inning with an RBI single.

The Wolverines answered in the bottom of the first to take a 2-1 lead, capitalizing on the first of two PNG errors and an RBI from shortstop J.T. Thompson.

Vidrine, who is headed to Alvin Junior College for next season, entered the game against a Wolverines team that has a 1.41 team ERA and had lost just twice since the first week of March.

“I was confident that if I kept throwing, the offense would get the hits behind me,” Vidrine said, “and they did.”

Wakeland put pressure on PNG on a couple of occasions, putting two runners on base in the fifth and placing a runner on second in the bottom of the seventh. In all, the Wolverines left seven runners on base, to the Indians’ five.

Junior Holden Lane delivered PNG’s game-winning hit, a two-RBI single in the top of the fifth inning.



This year’s team was one of four PNG teams to reach the state baseball semifinals, joining the 1958, 2000 and 2004 teams.

In just 2 hours and 11 minutes, the 2017 edition joined the 2000 team as the school’s only baseball state finalist. The 2000 team lost to Corpus Christi Calallen, 8-6, at the University of Texas’ Disch-Falk Field in the 4A state title game.

In 2000, some of the current PNG players were infants and others hadn’t been born yet, the St. Louis Rams were defending Super Bowl champions, George W. Bush was Governor of Texas and a gallon of gasoline cost approximately $1.50.

The only Port Arthur-area team to win a UIL state championship was Thomas Jefferson, who defeated Corpus Christi Moody, 6-1, in the 1983 5A title game.

As for coach Carter, he’s won 500-plus games in his career, including the 1992 and 1993 Louisiana state championships in Ville Platte.

He said qualifying for the Texas state championship is right at the top of his career highlights, noting that the championship in Texas is seven rounds to Louisiana’s five.

Carter took Sweeny to the Texas 3A semifinals in 2012.



Originally, the 5A state championship game was scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday. The entire UIL baseball championships were re-arranged when the possibility of the University of Texas hosting an NCAA Super Regional came up. The Longhorns were eliminated by Long Beach State last Monday, but the UIL kept the new schedule intact.

Carter said a day off doesn’t benefit either team. He said the team will rest, possibly take some batting practice at a Round Rock area high school and come out to watch the 6A semifinals on Friday afternoon, including the 4 p.m. game between Deer Park and Southlake Carroll.

The Indians defeated Deer Park, 4-3, on Feb. 24 in the fifth and final game of the La Porte Tournament.



Of Wakeland’s five losses, four of them came by just one run. They only had one playoff loss, whereas PNG had a trio of three-game series, and overcame one-game deficits twice. The Indians also overcame a 3-1 seventh inning deficit in a Game 3 against Manvel.