BASEBALL: Unlucky sixth: Breaks allow BH to surge past Nederland

Published 9:16 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2018

HOUSTON — Going into the bottom of the sixth inning, Nederland finally gained some momentum.

It didn’t take long for Barbers Hill to take it away.

A fielding error at shortstop led to Cully Mangus’ game-tying double, and an obstruction call for a fake tag at third base allowed the Eagles (25-10) to score the go-ahead run in a 3-2 win to take Game 1 of a 5A Region III quarterfinal at the University of Houston’s Schroeder Park.

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Game 2 is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at Schroeder, with Game 3 to start at approximately 7:30 if Nederland wins. The winner of the series will take on Tomball or Tomball Memorial next.

A fake tag, which is illegal in UIL baseball, occurs when a defender pretends to field a ball to make a runner slide. Mangus was awarded home plate as a result, and Nederland coach Bryan Spell disputed the call with the home plate umpire to no avail.

“It is what it is,” he said. “We had our opportunities we didn’t take advantage of, but that’s what the call was.”

River Orsak reached on the error, which was the second the Bulldogs committed, and advanced to third on a passed ball. Nederland was charged in the third inning on Conner Dunham’s at-bat with one out, and after Orsak struck out, Michael Disney lined a one-run single to open the scoring.

“I don’t think it was nerves,” Spell said. “Our guys were ready to play. Errors are a part of baseball; we just weren’t able to overcome them. Our guys were ready. I could see it in their eyes on the bus ride.”

Braydon Credeur went the distance for the third time and recorded five strikeouts while yielding four Eagles hits. The Lamar signee walked none in a complete game after Dunham lined a hit straight to Credeur’s leg to lead off the game.

“He’s pitched like he has the last four years,” Spell said. “Extremely proud of his outing, just came up on the short end of it.”

The Bulldogs (25-7-1) were engaged in a third straight challenging opener to a playoff series, having lost to Dayton at Barbers Hill and coming back from 2-0 down to defeat Galena Park in Crosby.

Mangus, the Eagles’ starter, and Brett Vasquez had no-hit Nederland through one out in the sixth before Adam Roccaforte slapped a single up the middle. Trenton Simon, who hit into a force-out at second, and Alan Underwood (single) came home on an Angel Castillo double to put Nederland ahead.

Disney took the mound in the seventh, as Brock Holton led off with a single and eventually reached third. Disney struck out Alex Ortiz and allowed a Brian Davila single before getting Landon Hiltz to pop out toward third and striking out Roccaforte to earn the save.

Mangus was pulled with one out in the fifth despite allowing no hits but had walked three, two in the inning. Vasquez, credited with the win, retired his first two batters to get out of trouble.

“That’s been our season,” Barbers Hill coach David Denny said. “That’s been [Mangus’] limit. We know that, and we’ve got good guys behind him. We’ve thrown as many as six guys in a seven-inning. Really, we have no rules as far as how far a guy is going. We don’t have the one guy they have but we have a bunch of guys who will get in there and get after it.”

Nederland totaled five hits and left six stranded, with four in scoring position.

“We didn’t make the plays we needed to make. We didn’t make the hits we needed to hit,” Spell said. “We’ll come back and see if we can do it Saturday.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

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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