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Port Neches-Groves wins big over weekend, advances to play Cougars

PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves baseball team survived a hard-fought 2-1 series against La Porte to advance to the second round of the playoffs this weekend.

The Indians will take on the Fort Bend Kempner Cougars in a best-of-three series, which starts Thursday.

All games will be played at Crosby High School, with Thursday’s game starting at 8 p.m., Game 2 on Friday at 8 p.m. and Game 3 on Saturday at 5 p.m. if needed.

Kempner went 20-11 on the year, including 13-3 in district play.

“They won 20 baseball games this year, so we are not going to overlook them,” PNG head coach Scott Carter said. “We know they are going to come in and hit the baseball. I know they have decent pitching. It is going to be a good series.”

The Indians dropped the first game last week against the La Porte Bulldogs in a 1-0 contest. PNG pitcher Thomas Reinholt had a perfect game through seven innings, but it wasn’t enough for PNG to come away with the victory.

The Indians bounced back in Game 2, jumping out to a 7-1 lead. The Bulldogs did not rollover, but instead fought back to tie the game at 8-8 before Caleb Faulk hit a walk-off RBI.

PNG went on to win Game 3, 9-6.

“That was just a good La Porte team,” Carter said. “I think we were pretty evenly matched. We got out early and they got hot late and evened up. They won the first game in the bottom of the seventh. The second game was won in the bottom of the seventh and they had a chance to win in the bottom of the seventh in the third game. It was just two teams that were evenly matched all the way through.”

Catcher Ryan Sosa hit .555 for the series with two home runs.

“He had five RBIs,” Carter said of Sosa. “He hit the ball extremely well. He does a great job behind the plate calling games. It was hot Saturday. I am really proud of the way he played.”

Carter said Reid Landry played well at first base when regular first baseman Tristan Abshire was on the mound.

“He made some really big plays over at first,” Carter said. “That kept innings from being extended. We made a couple of bad throws and he picked them.”

The coach said Reinholt played as well as he has all season.

“In that first game, he had three strikeouts,” Carter said. “Saturday, he was able to come back and throw in the seventh inning in Game 2. Then, he came in and got the last out of the game in Game 3. He ended up with a loss, a win and a save all in the same weekend. It was a busy weekend.”

The winner of the PNG/Kempner matchup will play the winner of the Friendswood/Fulshear series.