BASEBALL: The Woodlands holds off Conroe in district battle
The Conroe Tigers hurt themselves with untimely miscues and were unable to overcome the standout performance of a future Tiger on Tuesday evening, falling to The Woodlands 3-1 at Elmore Field in District 12-6A action.
Highlanders ace and LSU signee Devin Fontenot picked up his second victory in district play this season, leading the team with a complete-game effort on the mound.
For the second straight game, the senior right-hander struck out 10 batters. He surrendered seven hits and one walk, and threw 74 percent of his pitches for strikes.
“My outside fastball was working well, and I got my curveball working well tonight, so I could pitch really well in a 1-2 count or when I was ahead of the hitters,” said Fontenot, who threw 108 pitches. “I did a better job of that tonight.”
Fontenot started the bottom of the seventh inning with back-to-back strikeouts, but Conroe was able to get the tying run on second after Nathan Letien and Scott Horn both reached base and moved into scoring position on a passed ball.
But Fontenot was able to induce a groundout to end the game and keep the No. 10 state-ranked Highlanders (9-5-1, 3-0) unbeaten in league play this season.
“He pitched well all night,” The Woodlands coach Ron Eastman said of Fontenot. “That ball hit back to him (by Horn), I thought he should have made the play and got the out. But he didn’t let it rattle him. He was able to come back, refocus and get the last batter to ground out.”
The Woodlands is currently tied atop the district standings with College Park (4-7-1, 3-0), which picked up a 7-6 victory over Oak Ridge (7-6-2, 0-3) on Tuesday.
The crosstown rivals will square off at 7 p.m. on Friday at College Park.
After going down 1-2-3 in the first inning, the Highlanders got the scoring started in the second. Jarred Miles led off the frame with an infield single and later crossed home plate on a double to the right-center field gap from Avery Ortiz.
Ortiz then scored on a throwing error by Horn to put The Woodlands up 2-0. Ryan Tackett added to the lead in the next inning, driving in a run with a double off the center-field wall. Miles, who was hit by Conroe starter Marshall Prether to get on base, scored on the play.
“We talk about taking care of ourselves,” Conroe coach Jeff Raymer said. “First of all, you tip your cap to The Woodlands – they’re a great baseball team, and there’s a reason they’re undefeated in district. But we have to take care of ourselves. … That’s two runs that we allowed them to put on the board, and we’ve got to be able to clean that up if we’re going to win close games in this district.”
The Tigers scored their only run of the night with an RBI single from Dawson Shibley in the fifth inning. The Woodlands put two runners in scoring position with one out in the top of the sixth, but Conroe reliever Jose Quiroga got out of trouble with a pop-up and a strikeout.
Conroe had a runner on third on five separate occasions, but was only able to score once in those situations. Through three district games, the Tigers have plated just three runs.
“One of the hardest things to do in baseball is get three base hits in an inning,” Raymer said. “So we have to find a way to manufacture runs without getting a hit, and we’re still trying to figure that out.”
Prether went five innings for the Tigers, allowing eight hits, two walks and three earned runs. He finished with seven strikeouts. Quiroga pitched the final two frames, surrendering just one hit while striking out two.
Horn, Shibley and Angel Hernandez each had a pair of hits to lead Conroe at the plate. The Tigers’ only extra-base hit came on a double from Horn.
Conroe will travel to play Montgomery at 7 p.m. Friday.
Tackett and Michael Rapagnani each had two hits for the Highlanders. Tackett, Ortiz and Shane Sirdashney each collected a double.