It was a battle of two undefeated teams Saturday night at TLU’s Ed Kruse Stadium, as the Navarro Panthers and the San Antonio Christian Lions met in the championship game of the Navarro Tournament.
The Lions came into the game 8-0, while the Panthers had won their first three games of the season.
A pitcher’s duel developed in the contest, as Navarro’s Dakota Leopold and SA Christian’s Tim Arguello kept the offenses in check, each throwing two-hitters on the night.
But the Lions capitalized on walks and a couple of Navarro errors to take the 3-1 win.
“They had a great kid on the mound,” Navarro head coach Kris Cavazos said. “He was throwing high 80’s, low 90s with a great curve ball and a good changeup.
“He kept us off balance — we’re usually a great fastball hitting team, but tonight he just dealt and made us look pretty silly.”
The Lions got one run in the first after a walk and a steal, then a hard shot into left field that scored the runner from second for the 1-0 lead.
That would be the only hit Leopold would give up until late in the game, as he matched Arguello pitch-for-pitch.
“It was actually one of Dakota’s worst outings because he had a sore arm,” Cavazos said. “But even whenever he’s off he’s still dominating. Their coach had a lot of good things to say about him.”
Leopold gave up a couple of walks in the fifth, and after the runners had advanced to second and third, a pitch in the dirt was too hot to handle for catcher Kaden Monkerud, and another run scored to give the Lions a 2-0 lead.
“When I got here last year that was our motto, ‘we got to throw strikes, we gotta get outs, walks can’t happen and we can’t give good teams free bases,’” Cavazos said. “When you do that, it’s going to come back and bite you and tonight it did.”
The Lions took a 3-0 lead in the sixth on a perfectly executed bunt down the third base line, which brought the runner home from third.
Leopold had his second hit (the only player to record a hit for the Panthers) of the game in the bottom of the inning, a leadoff triple, and scored three batters later on a wild pitch for the final margin.
Arguello struck out 12 Panthers on the night, and Leopold had the only hard hit balls off of him in the game.
The Lions stayed perfect in moving to 9-0 on the season.
“They’re a private school and it’s kind of the best of the best over there,” Cavazos said. “That’s pretty good competition and we want to see that if we want to advance later. They’re a pretty good team.”
The Panthers have two weeks to prep for the district season in 2020.
“I’ll load up our preseason schedules,” Cavazos said. “We played Wimberley the other day and we have Liberty Hill next week. The tournaments we go to are all good. We’re in Fredericksburg next week — we play the best of the best so we can get ready for district and hopefully can make a good playoff run.”
The Panthers were missing four starters due to injury for the tournament.
Mark Wozniak, Sam Muniga, Riley Lipton and Tristan Brashears all missed playing time during the tourney.
“We had them out the whole tournament, so to get second place says a lot about the kids and the program,” Cavazos said.
The Panthers won three of four to start the season, not a bad start to the 2020 campaign.
“We were 3-0 before this game, and with all those guys injured I’ve been really proud of the way we’re playing,” Cavazos said.
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .