The McLennan Highlanders completed the series sweep of the Midland Chaparrals with a pair of victories this afternoon at Bosque River Ballpark.
Daniel Cole picked up the win on the mound and Payton Strambler got a save as the Highlanders defeated the Chaps 6-4 in game one.
The Highlanders began the scoring with one run in the bottom of the first as Griffin Paxton singled, advanced to second on a Midland error and scored on a triple by Josh Breaux.
McLennan added two runs in the second. Nick Thornquist and Brooks Embry hit back-to-back singles and advanced on a sacrifice by Aidan Shepardson. George Callil followed with a double to score Thornquist, and Embry scored on a sacrifice fly by Dylan Neuse.
Another Highlander run scored in the bottom of the third as Chase Sortor doubled, advanced to third on another Midland error and scored on a wild pitch.
Midland got on the board with a run in the fourth inning. Garrett Wilkinson and Braden Scrivner both singled. Wilkinson moved to third on an overthrow and scored on a wild pitch.
McLennan’s final two runs came in the bottom of the fifth. Breaux doubled and moved to third on a balk. Keaton Milford hit a fielder’s choice but both were runners were safe on the corners. Another balk brought Breaux in to score and advanced Milford to third. Milford then moved to third on an overthrow and scored on a wild pitch.
The Chaparrals rounded out the scoring with three runs in the top of the seventh. Jordan Billups doubled and Cade Bullinger drew a walk. Both runners scored on a triple by Frainyer Chavez. Ethan Barker followed with a sacrifice fly to score Chavez.
The Highlanders shut out Midland 7-0 in the nightcap with Shane Daughety getting the win. Daughety combined with Connor Heffron, Alex DeLeon, Levi David and Grant Miller to strikeout 14 Midland batters and hold the Chaparrals to only one hit.
Chase Sortor’s solo home run put the Highlanders on the board in the second.
McLennan added two runs in the third as Paxton walked and scored on another Sortor homer.
Three runs scored in the Highlander fourth. Jackson Nichols walked, Neuse singled and Breaux walked to load bases. A balk advanced the runners and brought Nichols in to score. Milford then doubled to score Neuse and Breaux.
The final run came in the bottom of the eighth as Neuse singled and scored on a double by Paxton.
“It’s a great day to come out of here with a doubleheader sweep. A sweep of the three-game series with a team the caliber of Midland is a big feather in our cap here early in the year. I’m really proud of our guys. Midland or McLennan has represented Region V at the Junior College World Series in four of the last five years. This is a bigtime rivalry and a bigtime series, for us to get the sweep is really a great way to start the year,” head coach Mitch Thompson said.
“The pitching was again the factor today. Only giving up four runs in a doubleheader is going to bode well for us long term. Tristan Bayless, Cole and Strambler coming in and getting the save in game one was outstanding. Even in his just 1/3 of an inning it was game time and a big-time out so I’m proud of Payton. Josh Breaux had a couple extra-base hits in game one and it was a tight ballgame. So, it was a good day and a good win.”
“To come back in the nightcap to shut them out and take a no hitter into the ninth inning and finish it up with a one-hit shutout was a big deal. Daughety was outstanding on the mound. I’m really proud of our pitching. To one-hit a team the caliber of Midland is a really big deal.”
“Offensively, Sortor had a big day in game two, hitting two home runs and driving in three runs. Milford had a couple big RBIs. It’s a team effort all the way around. We are playing good defense; we are really throwing the ball well; and our offense has showed up early this year. That is a good sign for our ballclub.”
“Next week we will be challenged big time as we play four games in the San Jac Tournament of Champions. We will play Midland again, followed by nationally ranked and top-10 Howard. On Saturday, we will play top-10 ranked Northwest Florida State who beat us in the national championship game in 2015; then Chipola, who is the defending national champion and the current No. 1 team in the country. So next week we will have our hands full and we will continue to be challenged, but that’s the way we like it. We are trying to find out exactly what we have and how we can continue to improve. The only way you do that is to play great people.”
McLennan 6, Midland 4
Midland 000 100 3 – 4 7 3
McLennan 121 020 x – 6 7 0
Jacob Webb, Aaron Weseman (5) and Garrett Wilkinson. Tristan Bayless, Dylan Cole (5), Payton Strambler (7) and Nick Thornquist. WP: Cole; LP: Webb; SV: Strambler. Leading hitters – Midland: Frainyer Chavez (2-4, 3B, 2 RBI), Ethan Barker (0-2, RBI), Garrett Wilkinson (2-4) and Jordan Billups (2-3, 2 2B); McLennan: Dylan Neuse (0-3, RBI); Josh Breaux (2-3, 2B, 3B, RBI), Chase Sortor (1-3, 2B) and George Callil (1-3, 2B, RBI). Record: McLennan 6-0.
McLennan 7, Midland 0
Midland 000 000 000 – 0 1 0
McLennan 012 300 01x – 7 12 0
Levi Hon, Justin Lewis (4), Garrett Egli (5), Noel Solis (9) and Cameron Melcher. Shane Daughety, Connor Heffron (5), Alex DeLeon (7), Levi David (8), Grant Miller (9) and Jackson Nichols. WP: Daughety; LP: Hon. Leading hitters – McLennan: Griffin Paxton (1-4, 2B, RBI), Josh Breaux (1-2, 2B), Keaton Milford (2-5, 2B, 2 RBI), Chase Sortor (2-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI) and Mitchell Caskey (3-4). Record: McLennan 7-0.