By BRYAN URBACH
While most local schools are on Spring Break this week, high school baseball isn't, with Westwood and Neches varsity teams beginning the week with a game in Palestine on Monday morning.
The Westwood Panthers came out on top of the Tigers, winning the game 13-3 by run-rule in the sixth inning.
The Panthers jumped out to a hot start by leading 3-1 after two innings and 5-1 in the fourth. But Neches wouldn’t go away without an early fight.
The Tigers scored two runs in the top of the fourth inning to bring the score to 5-3 before heading to the field for the bottom of the fourth.
In the bottom of the fourth, Westwood starting its scoring run with a two-run double to bring the score to 7-3. Two consecutive passed balls from Neches allowed Westwood to cross two more runs and bring the score to 9-3 after four innings of play.
Westwood coach J.D. Cashion said after the game that he liked how much scoring his team was able to do, but he also liked his team’s pitching ability to keep Neches off the scoreboard.
“I liked that we came out here on Spring Break and were able to play some baseball,” Cashion said. “We played well, and we didn’t get sleepy on them or anything.
“I liked the way our pitchers worked today,” he added. “Dustin Freeman had some trouble early on, but he found his groove. When his pitch count got up there, Briley Piersol got in there and really did a good job.
“A win is always great, and now we’re shifting our focus to Elkhart.”
Westwood tacked on four more runs in the fifth and sixth innings combined to enable the run-rule. For Neches, a non-district game a day before a district matchup meant getting some of the starters some rest and working with the role players.
“We had a lot of young guys in there,” said Neches coach Jacob Magee. “We’ve been playing district games, and we’re 2-0 in those so far, so, I was just trying to give some of our older guys some breaks. I started a bunch of different guys, five sophomores.
“We definitely learned today that we just have to make some of the routine plays,” he added. “We can’t give away any of the free ones.”
Even though both of these teams have a good amount of games to play this week, with it being Spring Break, Magee said the focus level should increase throughout the week.
“Playing on Spring Break, I think some of our kids were still on holiday mode and reality hadn’t set in yet,” Magee said. “It’s time to go to work now. We have four games this week. We have a district game tomorrow, Friday and then we play New Summerfield on Saturday. It’s a busy week, but that’s the expectations we have now.”
Up next for Westwood is Elkhart at 7 p.m. tonight, and Neches, the Tigers will face Martins Mill at 6 p.m. tonight on the road.