Bulldogs face Magnolia West in 5A Region III semifinals after topping rival PN-G

Published 9:50 am Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Nederland made the most of a baseball playoff series within a short radius of its own backyard.

As a reward of beating Port Neches-Groves, the Bulldogs will continue their postseason theme of “One More Week Together” at the University of Houston and face the 10th-ranked ballclub in all of Texas. Magnolia West (26-5) and Nederland (22-11-2) will square off in a best-of-three 5A Region III semifinal Wednesday and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. each night, with Game 3 scheduled for the same time Friday if necessary. The winner will take on either Georgetown, a 13-1 and 4-3 winner over Porter, or Santa Fe, a 2-1 and 5-4 survivor over Barbers Hill.

Nederland lost the 2018 5A Region III quarterfinal to Barbers Hill at UH.

In living up to the theme, Bulldogs coach Bryan Spell coined another phrase after Saturday’s win: “We’re not pretty but we’re dang sure gritty.”

The Bulldogs collected five hits in each of the two wins this past week after PNG’s Grant Rogers held them to two in Game 1. A four-run fifth inning Saturday, aided by two hits and three straight walks (one intentional), broke a scoreless tie.

Jacob Mares threw a four-hit, complete-game victory, holding the Indians (21-15-2) scoreless until one out in the seventh inning.

PNG won Game 1, 2-1, at Nederland on Thursday. Nederland stayed alive with a 3-0 payback at The Reservation.

Magnolia West, the District 19-5A champion, is ranked 10th in MaxPreps’ statewide poll and 93rd in its national rankings. The Mustangs are 15-2 in neutral-site games.

Nederland settled a three-game set with PNG on neutral turf, winning Saturday’s Game 3, 5-1, at Lamar University’s Vincent-Beck Stadium.

West, which missed the 2018 playoffs after a 9-14 season, is 6-0 this postseason after being swept 4-3 and 11-9 by College Station in the regular-season finale. The Mustangs have swept Willis, Pflugerville and Tomball to draw Nederland.

The Mustangs approached the mental game by not taking days off.

Among the Mustang pitching staff, Connor Phillips (11-3, 1.29 ERA) is an LSU commit, and Robert Revels (10-1, 1.4 ERA) is a left-hander headed to Hill College, between Dallas and Waco in Hillsboro. Junior Carson Carpenter (.414 batting average) leads a West team that hits .369 and has homered 18 times this year, with seniors Dylan Van Wicklen and Zach Wall batting .390 and .385, respectively.

The Bulldogs are now two rounds away from making their first state tournament since 1998, which was the program’s third in a four-year span. The 1999 Bulldogs, who had last met PNG in the postseason, reached the 4A Region III finals before losing to Brenham in two games.