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Tri-County 18U team falls at southwest regional

By BY MIKE McCRACKEN - SPECIAL TO THE ADVOCATE
July 30, 2013 at 2:30 a.m.

The 18U Tri County team is, seated from left: Justin Reeves (Hallettsville), Blake Michalec (Shiner), Weston Seay (Hallettsville), Chris Jones (Hallettsville), Dylan Blaha (Weimar) and Blake McCracken (Yoakum); Kneeling from left to right: Zane Ponder (Flatonia), Sam Patek (Yoakum), John Michael Blaha (Weimar), Laken Grimes (La Grange), Cade Brewer (Sweet Home) and John Patek (Yoakum); Standing from left: Manager Tony Neuendorff (Bernardo), Coach Russell Goebel (Cuero), Dakota Kresta (Shiner), Carson Schindler (Hallettsville), Weston Wick (La Grange), Casey Morrow (Yoakum), Justin Neiser (La Grange) and Coach Jack Crandall (Hallettsville).

The Texas Tri-County 18U team's hope of making it back to the Babe Ruth World Series ended in El Dorado, Arkansas at the Southwest Regional Tournament as the South Arkansas representative, Crossett, picked up a 2-1 extra-innings win on Monday afternoon to eliminate Tri-County.

"We had a good run and the guys fought to the very end," said Tri-County manager Tony Neuendorff. "I couldn't be more prouder of these guys. We had a great group of ball players."

Tri-County opened up tournament play with an 11-0 shutout over West Texas (Dumas) before getting knocked down to the loser's bracket with a 7-4 loss to Northwest Arkansas on Sunday morning. Tri-County rebounded with a 4-0 win over Arkansas Pulpwood on Sunday evening before falling to Crossett on Monday afternoon.

Tri-County 11, West Texas 0

Tri-County made quick work of West Texas, scoring two in the first, one in the second, six in the third and two in the fourth before the game was called via the 10-run mercy rule after the top of the fifth.

Carson Schindler (Hallettsville) and Casey Morrow (Yoakum) combined to pitch a perfect game. Schindler, who was credited with the win after going three innings, struck out six batters while Morrow got two strikeouts in two innings of relief.

Dylan Blaha (Weimar), Cade Brewer (Sweet Home) and Laken Grimes (La Grange) each went 2 for 4 as Tri-County posted 12 hits in the contest. Grimes posted a double, Blaha tallied two RBIs, and Brewer knocked in one run. Also getting hits in the game were: Morrow, Weston Wick (La Grange), Zane Ponder (Flatonia), John Patek (Yoakum), Dakota Kresta (Shiner) and Blake McCracken (Yoakum). Morrow tallied two RBIs while Justin Reeves (Hallettsville) and Wick each had one RBI.

Blaha and Blake Michalec (Shiner) each also stole a base in the game.

NW Arkansas 7, Tri-County 4

Errors and stranding 11 runners on base proved costly for Tri-County in their second game of the tournament as Northwest Arkansas collected a 7-4 victory. Despite out-hitting Northwest Arkansas, 7-5, a bad second inning led to four runs for Northwest Arkansas to give them an early 5-0 lead and Tri-County never recovered.

Northwest Arkansas managed to plate one run each in the first, fourth and sixth innings while Tri-County got two each in the fourth and seventh frames. Tri-County finished with four costly errors as only one Northwest Arkansas run was earned.

Chris Jones (Hallettsville) was the tough luck loser, going 5 2/3 innings and only giving up the one earned run on five hits with seven strikeouts and six walks. Wick came on to pitch the final 1/3 inning, allowing no runs and no hits.

Reeves led Tri-County at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and two stolen bases. Ponder went 1-for-2 with two RBIs, Wick went 1-for-1 with an RBI, and Patek also knocked in a run. Schindler, Brewer and Jones also had hits in the game.

Tri-County 4, Arkansas Pulpwood 0

Schindler and Ponder combined to pitch a complete game shutout over Pulpwood, 4-0, to keep Tri-County alive in the tournament. Schindler went five innings to collect his second win of the tournament, allowing just five hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Ponder pitched the final two innings, yielding just one hit with one strikeout and no walks.

After two scoreless innings, Tri-County finally got on the board with a run in the top of the third and three in the top of the fourth. Tri-County out-hit Pulpwood, 9-6.

Kresta went 2-for-3 with a run scored while Wick went 2-for-4 with a run scored. McCracken went 1-for-2 with an RBI and run scored with Blaha going 1-for-3 with an RBI. Also getting hits in the contest were: Schindler, Reeves, Grimes and Ponder. Reeves and Wick each hit doubles while Ponder scored a run.

Crossett 2, Tri-County 1

Weston Seay (Hallettsville) allowed just one run through seven innings, but Tri-County couldn't muster enough offense as Crossett pulled out a 2-1 victory in eight innings on Monday afternoon to eliminate Tri-County from the tournament.

Tri-County got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Blaha scored on a passed ball. Tri-County actually loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, but one run was all Tri-County could get out of it.

Crossett finally got on the board in the top of the sixth when they too scored on a passed ball to make it 1-1.

Neither team could score in the seventh frame, sending the game into extras. Ponder relieved Seay to begin the eighth inning and with two outs and the bases loaded, walked in the eventual winning run tagging Ponder with the tough loss.

In seven innings of work, Seay yielded just the one earned run on four hits with five strikeouts and three walks.

Shindler and Reeves each went 2-for-4 while Blaha and Kresta had the other two hits. Blaha's hit was a double in the 4th that set up Tri-County's only run. Reeves also stole a base in the contest.

Another member on the Tri-County team was Yoakum's Sam Patek. Justin Neiser (La Grange) was a member of the team, but couldn't make the trip to Arkansas.

Crossett was eliminated by NW Arkansas, 6-0, later Monday night to set up a championship game(s) between Mid-County and NW Arkansas on Tuesday. The winner would advance to the Babe Ruth World Series in Covington County, Alabama later this month.

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