Klein Collins edges Klein Oak
The Tigers were looking to redeem their double-digit loss to the Panthers earlier in March.
At the same time, the Panthers wanted to make it 2-0 against one of the top teams in district.
Chris Benavides pitched a complete game with 11 strikeouts and three Tigers drove in runs as Klein Collins beat Klein Oak 3-1, in a District 15-6A matchup, Tuesday afternoon, at Klein Collins High School.
“He (Benavides) pitched a great game,” Assistant coach Darrin Bartel said, head coach Chris Griffin was ejected early in the game. “We got our guys, executed what we were supposed to execute and we came through when we needed to.”
Klein Collins (14-5, 10-2) won its eighth straight game since losing to the Panthers 12-2, March 9, and is tied for first-place alongside The Woodlands, followed by Oak Ridge and Conroe. While the Tigers are tied on paper, they are in first place because they beat the Highlanders 1-0 in the first round.
“We had good timely hitting and we had a lot of other balls that we hit hard, we could have scored a lot more runs,” Bartel said. “We did a great job, I thought, as the game went on offensively.”
Klein Oak (10-16, 5-7) is fifth in district, with Klein and Klein Cain close behind.
Billy Brown started for the Panthers, allowing three runs with six strikeouts in six innings.
Tiger Elijah Comeaux scored Colby Powers with an sacrifice fly, after Powers got on with an one-out double, to make it 1-0 after the first inning.
Benavides ended the top of the second inning with a strikeout to leave runners stranded at second and third base.
The Panthers had runners at second and third base again in the top of the third inning. A single by Dalton Stevenson then scored Kyle Bearden to tie it at one a piece. Two runners were left stranded.
Jacob Evangelista got things going for the Tigers in the bottom third with a double. After advancing to third base on a wild pitch, Powers drove in the go-ahead run, scoring Evangelista, 2-1, but was out at second trying to stretch for a double.
Benavides ended the top of the fifth inning with a strikeout to leave runners stranded at first and second base.
In the bottom of the fifth, Evangelista bunted for an infield single to load the bases with no outs. Reji Cubillo drove in Josh Cordova with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. The right fielder then made a diving catch to rob Benavides of a hit, end the inning and keep it a two-score game.
Benavides began the sixth inning allowing a pair of runners on base. He followed that with the three straight outs to end the inning.
“He’s that kind of a guy, he’s got that kind of stuff,” Bartel said. “He can dominate batters at times, sometimes he can walk people and then just come back, he’s a real competitor.”
The Tigers have three games (Klein Cain, Klein and Conroe) before the regular-season finale vs. The Woodlands, April 23, which will likely be for first place, if they win out.
The Panthers will face Klein Forest, Oak Ridge, College Park and close the regular season at Klein Cain.
“They’re legit (The Woodlands), they’re a really good team,” Bartel said. “Chris pitched one the best games he’s ever pitched in the first round. You hope you get another performance like that but they’re good. It’s going to be a ball game; it’s going to be a battle.
“We got to take care of some business first, we got three other teams we got to play first.”