The Port Arthur News
Aaron Graham tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout and Kaleb Carter went 3-for-3 at the plate to lead Port Neches-Groves to a 6-0 win over Baytown Lee in Wednesday’s first-round Class 4A playoff game at Vincent-Beck Stadium.
The Indians improved to 24-3 overall and increased their winning streak to 16 games. PN-G’s last loss was a 3-1 decision to Barbers Hill on March 6.
“That’s the thing about winning,” said PN-G coach Mark Brevell when asked about the Indians 16-game winning streak. “It gets contagious just like hitting the ball gets contagious. The kids have a lot of confidence right now. When they step on the field they expect to win the ball game.”
PN-G will try to close out the three-game series Saturday with Jayce Nelson on the mound. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. at Baytown Sterling HS.
“That opening game is very important and that’s what we talked about before we got over here today,” said PN-G coach Mark Brevell. “You want to go into the weekend up one game. You definitely want to go into that Saturday game knowing they have to beat you twice instead you having to win twice. The last two years we lost the first game and had to win twice on Saturday, so this is a much better feeling.
“I thought Graham was unbelievable on the mound tonight. Same kind of game we’ve been playing all year. Graham threw strikes and pitched great, we played solid defense behind him and got big hits when we needed to.”
The Indians broke the game open with five runs in the bottom of the second inning. Colton Ward drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on Clark’s 1-out double to right center field.
Chase Bertrand hit a towering fly ball to center field that was plenty deep enough to drive in Ward from third, but the Ganders centerfielder Gabriel Ramos dropped the fly ball, allowing both runners to score.
Dylan Saatzer kept the onslaught going with an RBI single to right field, driving in Bertrand. Grant Guidry doubled down the left field line to put both runners in scoring position. Jayce Nelson, who was 2-for-4, delivered a 2-run single to center field to give the Indians a 5-0 lead.
PN-G added a run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Yancy Foster doubled down the left field line with two outs. Clark followed with a single to left field that drove in courtesy runner Logan Chipman to extend the Indians’ lead to 6-0.
In picking up the win, Graham allowed no runs on two hits with one walk and six strikeouts in seven innings of work. He allowed just one Gander to reach second base all night. He was the recipient of some stellar defensive plays, as well.
After Justin Barker led off the second inning with a single to left, Nelson made a great running catch on the warning track in right center field on a ball hit by Michael Gomez. Saatzer also flashed some leather in the field, snagging a line drive off the bat of Harrison Wier to start the seventh inning. He also recorded assists on four of the final six outs, including the last two to end the game.
“I saw that it was a chopper and I knew I had to just go get it and threw across my body. (Colton) Ward made a great stretch at first,” said Saatzer on one of his assists in the seventh inning. “Nelson made a great catch and Guidry had a heck of a game at third. It was a great, all-around team win.”
Lee’s only real threat in the game came in the top of the fifth inning. Austin Lord singled to center field with two outs and moved to second when Roberto Vasquez drew a walk. Hunter Waldie flew out to right field to end the inning.
Michael Gomez started and took the loss for the Ganders. He allowed five runs, three earned, on six hits with two walks and one strikeout. Vasquez pitched the final three innings, allowing one run on two hits.