For the first time all postseason, the Celina baseball team faced a deficit. The Bobcats handled it in stride, however, and now sit one win away from a return to the regional finals.
Celina, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association, scored five unanswered runs over the final four innings on Wednesday to overtake No. 6 Texarkana Pleasant Grove 5-3 in Game 1 of a best-of-3 regional semifinal series, played at Winnsboro.
The Bobcats had to overcome an early 3-0 deficit as Pleasant Grove struck just three batters into the contest. Back-to-back singles by the Hawks set up a three-run home run by Texas Tech pledge JM Long to spark Pleasant Grove to an early advantage.
Celina settled in, however, and limited the Hawks to just two hits for the rest of the ballgame. Senior Noah Bentley worked around the early damage and went on to pitch all seven innings in the win, allowing three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and three walks.
The Bobcat bats erupted midway through the contest with consecutive two-run, three-hit frames in the fourth and fifth innings to take a lead. Junior Jose Mendez beat a throw to home plate during a run-down and junior Major Brignon followed with an RBI double to close the gap to 3-2. One inning later, an RBI single from senior Sean Rabe prefaced an RBI double from senior RJ Ruais to nudge Celina in front.
The Bobcats gambled on the base paths once again in the top of the seventh inning, as junior Ryan Bevins successfully stole home to boost the lead to 5-3.
Ruais and junior Zack Henderson paced the Celina offense with two hits in the win, inching the team one step closer to a regional finals return. The two teams reconvened at Winnsboro for a 7 p.m. start on Thursday in Game 2. Should the Hawks knot the best-of-3 series, Game 3 will be 1 p.m. Friday at Winnsboro.
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