Late-inning action decides China Spring, Orangefield playoff battle

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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NAVASOTA – The China Spring Cougars outlasted the Orangefield Bobcats 5-4 in Game One of their best-of-three Class 4A Region III Semifinals series Wednesday night at Navasota High School.

The Cougars (30-8) rallied from a 3-1 deficit to score four unanswered runs before the Bobcats trimmed the China Spring lead to one in the bottom of the seventh.

The Bobcats outhit the Cougars 8-6 for the game but China Spring was able to hang on.

Kolby Killough got the win on the mound for the Cougars. He went 6 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits while striking out nine and walking two. Maruca Rosales earned the save, recording a strikeout for the last out.

Coop Longron absorbed the loss for the Bobcats. He worked all six innings, allowing six hits while striking out five and walking two.

Game Two of the series will be at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Grand Oaks High School in Spring. Game Three, if necessary, will follow 30 minutes after Game Two.

The winner of the Orangefield-China Spring series will face either Carthage or Bellville in the Regional Finals next week.

The Cougars scratched in a run in the bottom of the first inning. Brayden Faulkner hit a high fly ball in shallow right that fell and he advanced all the way to third for a triple. He then scored when Cage McCloud had a RBI sacrifice fly to left.

The Bobcats tallied three runs in the top of the third inning, thanks to some nice small ball and three hits.

Caleb Fregia, who led the Bobcats with three hits from the nine-hole, had a leadoff single to left. Kameryn Henderson then came up with a bunt and Killough made an errant throw to second as both runners was safe. Tyler Shearin, who had two hits on the night, put down a perfect bunt single down the third base line to load the bases. Kyle Michael, who also had two hits and three RBI, then came through big, smacking a two-run single up the middle.

The Cougars regained the lead with a three-run bottom of the third.

Jase Garrett roped a leadoff single to right centerfield and Faulkner drew a walk. McCloud then singled over short to load the bases with no outs. Trace Necessary brought in Garrett with a RBI groundout to second base. Bryce Tabor promptly laced a two-run triple in the gap into right field to give the Cougars a 4-3 edge.

China Spring grabbed a run in the bottom of the fourth.

Trevor Black stroked a leadoff triple to right and with one out Garrett reached on an error. Faulkner drove in Black with a sacrifice fly to right to up the Cougars’ led to 5-3.

The Bobcats tried to rally in the top half of the seventh. Fregia had a leadoff single up the middle. Henderson reached on a fielder’s choice as Fregia was out at second. Shearin grounded out, moving Henderson to third and Michael plated Henderson with a line-drive RBI single to center. Killough reached the pitch limit after Michael’s at-bat and Rosales got the last out by striking out Kolbie Sowell.