GRAND PRAIRIE – When Josh Elvir rocketed a solo homer far into the right-field seats on Monday to cut a San Jacinto lead to 3-1, it appeared the Angelina College Roadrunners were swinging momentum back toward their dugout.
The excitement was short-lived: San Jacinto head coach Tom Arrington appealed to the umpires for a ruling on the bat’s pine-tar level, and the blue crew ruled Elvir out instead. Somehow, head coach Jeff Livin managed to avoid a George Brett reaction, but the damage was done, nevertheless.
AC never quite recovered from the blow, eventually falling 8-2 in the Region XIV Conference Tournament’s third round in Grand Prairie.
Adding injury to insult, the Roadrunners learned earlier in the day they’d be without All-Conference shortstop Nathan Miranda for the rest of the tournament after Miranda suffered a fracture in his hand during Sunday’s game against Panola College. Miranda’s loss left Livin scrambling to rearrange his infield and placing players in unfamiliar roles.
AC’s loss means the Roadrunners will have to win three straight to qualify for the national tournament. The Roadrunners on Tuesday will face the winner of the Navarro College/Paris College game played late on Monday.
A loss ends the season, while a win sets up a rematch with San Jac at 5 p.m. Should the ‘Runners win both, a winner-take-all game would take place on Wednesday.
AC’s Jesse Cravy pitched well over his 5 2/3 innings of work, holding the Gators to three runs, with only two of those earned. San Jac’s Aaron Bond hit a two-run homer in the top of the first, with the runner onboard having reached via an AC error. The Gators added a third-inning run on a single and two wild pitches.
AC missed out on a golden opportunity in the fourth, loading the bases with no outs. Evian Benjamin scored on a Gator error, but San Jac pitcher MacGregor Hines worked his way out of the jam.
The ‘Runners added a run in the eighth on Christian Leonard’s RBI double, but a deep drive off Aaron Bowley’s bat ended as a Gator web gem to end the inning.
Tucker Redden doubled and singled to account for two of AC’s six hits.
AC will play the Navarro/Paris winner at 1 p.m.
Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games.
Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.