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Bears advance to area championship

 
Bears advance to area championship
La Vernia Bear baseball players gather for a team photo. The state-ranked Bears defeated Liberty Hill in a best-of-three series last week for the bi-district championship. The team will now advance to the area championship where it will face Brazosport this Friday and Saturday.

After dropping the first game in a best-of-three series with Liberty Hill for the bi-district championship, the Bear baseball team got rolling last weekend to win the final two games and advance to the area championship.

The rare Bear loss during the game one matchup with the Panthers was May 8. Liberty Hill scored 1 run in the top of the second, and run No. 2 in the top of the third for an early 2-0 lead. In the top of the sixth inning, the Panthers added a 3rd run, and La Vernia was quickly running out of time.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Bears got things moving. Christian Bruce drew a leadoff walk, and then Austin Starks singled to left to put runners on first and second. Tristan Gardner stepped to the plate and drove a single into center field, and Bruce ran around for La Vernia’s first run of the night.

Cole Lowry drew an intentional walk to load the bases, and Reagan Tucker came in to run for Lowry. Kyle Kincaid became out No. 1, and Colby Skelton stepped to the plate. Skelton made contact with an 0-2 pitch and reached base on a fielder’s choice. Starks was able to run home, but Gardner was out at third. Tanner Sims then popped out to end the inning, as the Bears left the tying and go-ahead runs on the bags.

The Bears sat the Panthers down quickly by virtue of a three-up, three-down at-bat, and the Bears had one final chance to score some runs. Liberty Hill returned the favor, though, as a trio of strikeouts ended the game with a 3-2 victory for Liberty Hill.

Game No. 2 was played on May 9, and the Bears wasted no time getting all over Liberty Hill. Colton Parrish and Starks each scored in the first inning for a 2-0 lead, and then Starks and Gardner scored in the top of the third inning for a 4-0 La Vernia advantage.

Sims singled and scored in the fourth inning, as did Parrish and Justus Parker. Gardner reached base on an error and he later scored for an 8-0 La Vernia lead.

The Panthers scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and 1 in the bottom of the fifth to make it an 8-3 game. The Bears came back in the top of the sixth, though, getting 2 runs. Bruce started it off as he was hit by a pitch and walked over to first. Starks then got hold of a 1-2 pitch and went yard over the left field fence. That made the score 10-3 in favor of La Vernia.

While Liberty Hill would not score again in the game, La Vernia did not return the favor. The Bears scored 8 additional runs in the top of the seventh inning as Parrish, Parker, Bruce, Starks, Gardner, Lowry, Kincaid, and Skelton all crossed home plate. After quickly retiring the side in the bottom of the seventh, the Bears celebrated an 18-3 win.

Following a 30-minute break, the teams went back onto the field. The first three innings were scoreless, but La Vernia got cranked back up in the top of the fourth.

Starks started things off by reaching base on an error, but was later called out trying to take second base. Gardner also reached base on a fielding error, and Lowry stepped to the plate. Lowry made good contact with an 0-2 pitch and sent it out of the park for a 2-run homer.

The Panthers got 1 run back in the bottom of the fourth, but that didn’t deter the Bears. Parrish singled to start things off, and Parker hit the Bears’ second home run of the game to score Parrish and himself. Bruce and Starks also scored in the inning, giving La Vernia a 6-1 lead.

La Vernia scored its final run of the game in the top of the seventh inning. Starks was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and then ran from first to home on a line-drive double off the bat of Gardner. The score stood at 7-1 as the teams moved into the bottom of the seventh inning.

The Panthers were able to scratch 2 runs thanks to an error and a pair of hits, but a ground out, pop out, and strikeout ended the game and the series with a 7-3 win for La Vernia.

The Bears will now advance to the area championship. La Vernia will face Brazosport in another best-of-three series. The first game will be played Friday, May 15, at 7 p.m. in Brazosport. Game two will be Saturday, May 16, at 2 p.m. in La Vernia. If a third game is needed, it will be played 30 minutes after the end of game two.

Scores

Liberty Hill def. La Vernia, 3-2.

Bears: Runs: Christian Bruce-1, Austin Starks-1. RBIs: Tristan Gardner-1, Colby Skelton-1. Hits: Colton Parrish-1, Justus Parker-1, Starks-1, Gardner-1. Walks: Bruce-2, Starks-1, Gardner-1, Cole Lowry-1. Stolen bases: Gardner-2. Pitching: Skelton (L) -- 5 strikeouts, 1 walk, 3 earned runs.

La Vernia def. Liberty Hill, 18-3.

Bears: Runs: Austin Starks-4, Colton Parrish-3, Tristan Gardner-3, Justus Parker-2, Christian Bruce-2, Cole Lowry-1, Kyle Kincaid-1, Colby Skelton-1, Tanner Sims-1. RBIs: Lowry-4, Bruce-3, Starks-3, Parrish-2, Parker-1, Kincaid-1, Skelton-1, Sims-1. Hits: Lowry-3 (1 double), Bruce-3 (1 triple), Parrish-2 (1 triple), Parker-2, Starks-2 (1 home run), Gardner-2, Skelton-2, Sims-2. Walks: Starks-2, Parrish-1, Bruce-1, Gardner-1, Lowry-1, Kincaid-1. Stolen bases: Gardner-1, Parker-1, Starks-1. Pitching: Austin Preiss (W) -- 5 strikeouts, 5 walks, 2 earned runs.

La Vernia def. Liberty Hill, 7-3.

Bears: Runs: Austin Starks-2, Colton Parrish-1, Justus Parker-1, Christian Bruce-1, Tristan Gardner-1, Cole Lowry-1. RBIs: Parker-2, Gardner-2, Lowry-2. Hits: Parrish-3, Gardner-2 (1 double), Parker-1 (home run), Bruce-1, Lowry-1 (home run). Walks: Lowry-2, Kyle Kincaid-1. Stolen bases: Parker-1, Reagan Tucker-1. Pitching: Tanner Sims (W) -- 6 strikeouts, 1 walk, 2 earned runs.

 
 
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