Kaz’s Korner

Joe Kazmar – For The Record

Although Mother’s Day came a bit early (second Sunday in May) this year, it didn’t stop the world of sports from having big events on its calendar.

The Kentucky Derby ran Saturday at Churchill Downs like it has for the past 142 years without an upset, baseball continued on the major league, collegiate and high school levels and the PGA Tour event had an exciting finish Sunday afternoon.

For the second year in a row the undefeated Kentucky Derby favorite—Nyquist—won the Run for the Roses like he was supposed to by some 2½ lengths. It was the eighth straight victory for the colt, but the first time he ever ran 1¼ miles.

Nyquist not only ran the distance without any visible stress, but he toured the Churchill Downs track in the fastest time (2:01.31) since Funny Cide posted a 2:01.19 in 2003. And he won the race in front of the second-largest Churchill Downs crowd of 167,227. The all-time best attendance was 170,513.

Nyquist is the eighth horse to finish the Kentucky Derby unbeaten, joining Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew (1977), and more recently Smarty Jones (2004), Barbaro (2006) and Big Brown (2008).

Nyquist was a 2-1 favorite in the 20-horse Derby and allowed pace setter Danzing Candy and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith to set swift early fractions. At the six-furlong mark Danzing Candy was finished.

The lead was taken over by Gun Runner, but Nyquist showed a burst of speed and flew past Gun Runner like he was standing still. Exaggerator, the second choice at 5-1 made a bid for the lead, but Nyquist kept moving and crossed the wire, never concerned about Exaggerator.

Nyquist was supposed to be shipped to Baltimore Monday to prepare for the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness at Pimlico on May 21. The Derby winner paid $6.6o to win, $4.80 to place and $3.60 to show. Exaggerator returned $5.40 and $4.20 and Gun Runner paid $6.00 to show.

The high school baseball playoffs continued last weekend with the top four teams in District 24-4A all advancing after downing the top four teams in District 23-4A.

The 2015 state runner-up in Class 4A-2–West Orange-Stark Mustangs–had an easy time in their bi-district meeting with a 14-2 slashing of Splendora.

Junior right-hander Jack Dallas fanned 11 for the mound victory and helped his own cause by going 3-for 4 at the plate and driving in four runs.

The Bridge City Cardinals, who captured the school’s 25th district championship last month, tamed Liberty 7-4 Friday and 6-1 Saturday, The Redbirds will play District 21-4A champion Bellville this week.

Perhaps the most exciting playoff game Saturday was between fourth-seeded Little Cypress-Mauriceville and No. 9-ranked District 23-4A champion Huffman.

Bears’ pitcher Mitchell Lee fell behind early, but came to bat in the bottom of the fifth inning with runners on first and third with his team trailing 5-2. He was told by Head Coach Steve Griffith to put the ball in the air to avoid a double play.

Lee listened to his coach real well and put the ball into the air like he was told and it carried right out of the ball park for a three-run home run to tie the score The Bears added two more runs and held on for a 9-7 bi-district win over the Falcons.

Silsbee also won their series Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Tarkington to complete the sweep over District 23-4A.

On the college scene the Lamar Cardinals failed to gain any ground on the Southland Conference-leading Southeastern Louisiana Lions, who came into Beaumont and swept the Big Red in three-game weekend series. It was the first time this season Lamar has been swept in a three-game series.

Lamar concludes the regular season with a three-game series against Sam Houston that begins Friday night at Vincent-Beck Stadium in Beaumont. The Cardinals (31-15 overall and 16-8 in the SLC) still have a shot at the No. 2 seed in next week’s Southland Conference Tournament

KWICKIES…The Houston Astros stood at 4-3 through Sunday’s 5-1 victory over Seattle in their 10-game home stand which ends tonight (Wed.) against the Cleveland Indians. But the Stroes still are entrenched in the AL West Division cellar and will have a hard time moving up unless they have a big winning streak soon.

James Hahn, who had missed eight straight cuts or shot a round in the 60’s since February before last weekend’s Wells Fargo PGA Championship, put it all together and won his second tourney ever on the first playoff hole against Roberto Castro. The victory was worth $1.314 million to Hahn, while Castro pocketed $788,400 for his second-place finish.

The Lamar Lady Cardinals softball team (32-20 overall and 18-9 in the SLC) will be the third-seeded team in this week’s Southland Conference Tournament that begins today (Wed.) in Lake Charles, La.

Texas A&M senior Kyle Simonds fired a no-hitter over No. 10 Vanderbilt Saturday at Blue Bell Park in College Station. An error in the first inning prevented Simonds from registering A&M’s first perfect game. The Aggies won 3-0 and upped their record to 16-8 in the Southeast Conference and 37-19 overall.

JUST BETWEEN US…The fourth J.J. Watt Charity softball game will take place Saturday at Minute Maid Stadium in Houston. It will benefit the Justin J. Watt Foundation. Watt’s first three charity games were sold out at Constellation Field, home of the Sugar Land Skeeters. Watt moved the game to Minute Maid Park this year to raise more money for his foundation. The game usually features the Houston Texans’ offense against the defense. Watt has recruited some big name coaches—Roger Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, Clyde Drexler and Tom Herman. Since Watt started his charity softball classic, it has raised more than $1.365 million for his foundation.