The Record’s feature team of the week is the Orangefield Bobcats. The ‘Cats have been lighting up the scoreboard in early season action with impressive wins in pre-season and tournament play. So far, Orangefield has scored 124 points after just over three weeks of baseball.

After losing much of last season’s Region III semifinalist squad to graduation, Coach Jeff Bennett and staff have put together a fisty group of newcomers mixed in with a few familiar faces- seniors, Quinton Evans, Parker James, Tyler Weldon and Jonathan Deramus. As for the newcomers, they will be making names for themselves in Bobcat baseball very soon. Orangefield, the defending Dist. 21-3A champions, opens district play March 25 at home against Silsbee.

It may have been Spring Break last week but the Bobcats certainly didn’t take it easy.
They managed to get in two pre-season games before entering the Kelly Bulldog Tournament in Beaumont to end the week with four wins and two losses. They improved their record to 8-6.

“It was a good week…our only losses coming in the bottom of the seventh inning to a quality team like Kelly,” Bennett said, “We are starting to have more people step up and get the job done.”

The Bobcats started the week at Baseball USA in Houston on Monday, March 7, defeating Van Vleck 11-0 in five innings. Evans pitched a no hitter with 11 strikeouts. Junior slugger Austin Scales was two-for-three at the plate with three RBI. Parker James was two-for-two with two RBI.

Next up, Orangefield hosted Class 4A Houston-North Forest on Tuesday in an incredible 23-4 victory in five innings marked by 13 hits. The victory included a 13 run fourth inning with freshman Westin Crain getting the start on the mound going four innings allowing just one earned run and giving up just two hits. Deramus was the heavy hitter in that contest going two for four, with one HR, three runs scored and two RBI. Evans batted three-for-four and two RBI. James was two-for-two with four RBI and junior Jake Best went two-for-three with three RBI.

By Thursday, Orangefield was in Beaumont for the three day Kelly Bulldog Baseball Tournament. They pounded the Liberty Panthers 16-5 to get the tournament rolling on Thursday. Freshman Braxton Smith got the win on the hill for the Bobcats. Smith also helped the team offensively going two-for-three at the plate with three RBI. Evans, however, was the muscle behind the win. The Bobcat senior was three-for-three that included a home run, a double , a triple, three RBI and scored five runs. Scales was two-for-three with two RBI and sophomore Eric Truncale had two RBI.

Orangefield’s only two losses of the week came from the same team, the hosting Beaumont Kelly Bulldogs, and both came in the bottom of the seventh inning and ironically by the same score, 9-8.

The Bobcats and Bulldogs first tangled on Thursday following the Liberty game. Junior pitcher Jakob Brown went five innings. Relief pitcher Luke Johnson took the loss on the hill but he also hit his first homerun of the season, a two run HR against Kelly. Deramus led Orangefield at the plate going two-for-four and scored twice. James had three RBI.
Before the Bobcats met Kelly again, however, Orangefield and Liberty met for another round on Friday. The Bobcats took down the Panthers 16-6 with sophomore pitcher Luke Johnson on the hill most of the game before being relieved by DeRamus in the final three innings to earn the save. The Bobcat defense helped out their pitchers by turning three double plays in the game with the final two outs in the game coming on a 1-2-3 double play. James continued to stay hot offensively by going three-for-four with three RBI. Jake Best also contributed two hits in five trips to the plate.

Action resumed on Saturday with Kelly defeating Liberty 5-4 with the tournament finale to follow against Orangefield. The contest proved to be one of the best of the tournament despite Orangefield’s repeat 9-8 loss in the bottom of the seventh. The Bobcats scored a run in each inning tying the game in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Johnson slammed his second two run home run of the tournament. Evans and Smith also homered for the Bobcats who scattered 11 hits in the game. Scales got the start on the mound for Orangefield giving up two hits- both Kelly homeruns. Evans came in and took the loss in relief. Kelly broke the tie in the bottom of the final frame to win the game.

Evans, James and Scales lead the Bobcats in hitting, all batting over .450.

The Bobcats have two more pre-season contest before their district opener. The Cats traveled to Baytown on Tuesday and host Beaumont Kelly on Friday. “Hopefully we will play well this week,” Bennett said, “and we can use that momentum to start district play at the end of next week.”

In other hometown baseball action the West Orange-Stark Mustangs went 1-2 at the Jasper Bulldog Baseball Tournament.

The Mustangs lost in the first round in a high scoring contest against Hemphill, 13-9. Jacob Finley went two-for-three at the plate for the Mustangs with a homerun and two RBI.

Cash McCarson was three-for-four with a double and RBI. Daniel Woodson was two-for-two with a homer and two RBI. Jonathan Hucko was two-for-two with two doubles and RBI. Jordan Darnall, Zane Anderson and James Thomas each chalked up a hit in the contest.

The Mustangs came back with Zane Anderson pitching to defeat Huntsville 12-5. Anderson pitched the first five innings giving up four runs on seven hits. McCarson was one-for-two at the plate that included a double and four RBI. Woodson was two-for-three with a triple and and two RBI. Jacob Finley had two RBI and three BB. Domas was one-for-three with two RBI.

The Mustangs fell to Livingston 11-2 to end the tournament. The Mustangs scores came from Finely on a two run home run.

WOS will travel to Lake Charles on March 17 to take on Sam Houston. The Mustangs will play DeRidder on March 18. The Saturday game scheduled against Evadale has been cancelled. The Mustangs open Dist. 21-3A on the road against Hamshire-Fannett on March 25.

Meanwhile, the Bridge City Cardinals (7-7) travelled to take part in the LaGrange Baseball Tournament over Spring Break. Bridge City ended the trip going 1-2. Big Red lost to New Waverly 6-3 but came back to defeat Columbia 5-2 as pitcher Jake Lemoine picked up his first varsity win. Dylan Mulhollan also made several great defensive plays. In the final round Bridge City lost to Yoakum in a close one, 7-6.

The Cardinals will play Kirbyville on March 17 and open Dist. 21-3A action March 25 against Hardin-Jefferson at Twin County Field.

On Tuesday night the Dist. 20-4A season opener at home for the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears against Lumberton was rescheduled for Wednesday. LCM (10-5) will travel to Beaumont on Friday to face Ozen.

The Record baseball columnist Joey Encalade will be back next week. You can also find his column and tons of game photos at TheRecordLive.Com. “See you at the park!”