Hornet baseball secures fourth straight postseason berth

Apr. 17—HUNTSVILLE — After a key win against Nacogdoches, Huntsville baseball started the domino effect for a spot in the postseason.

With a magic number of two entering the game, Huntsville needed to grab a win and have Lufkin take the game over Dayton to secure the spot.

With the Hornets rallying behind their seniors in the final home game of the season, Huntsville left with a 2-0 win against the Dragons. And becoming the Panther's fans for the evening.

"It's always good to get a win, and get a win on senior night," Huntsville coach Justin Jennings said. "All the guys got in the game in some capacity. Hopefully, Lufkin can finish the deal and we will be in for four straight years."

As it was senior night, Huntsville relied on a junior to help get the win.

On the mound, Jennings gave the rock to Van Brady — who had previously faced Nacogdoches in the first meeting — and things turned around. The first time the squads played, the Dragons used seven free passes.

But Brady bounced back. The junior came out with a vengeance.

His velocity was up and the adrenaline pumped for him throughout the game. Brady tossed all seven innings and gave up one hit to the Dragon batters.

Brady still gave up four free bases but relied on his defense and five strikeouts to get the win for the Hornets.

"Van Brady was awesome tonight. He had some juice going and the velo was up. He threw tonight like he did in the district opener against Porter. Last time against Nac was the only time he had struggled with his command," Jennings said. "He had one bad outing where he didn't command the strike zone. Tonight he was on with three or four pitches. He had some lapses but he was able to wash it and get back in it and do what he has done for us this year."

With major success on the bump, the offense did enough to win.

Huntsville is missing two key bats from the lineup due to injury. The Hornets had to look elsewhere for production.

Junior Brian Parker Jr. got a rest day from the field and as the Hornets designated hitter. Parker Jr. grabbed one of the Hornets' three hits and drove in a run. The other hits came from Codi Hager and Austin Taylor to get one base.

While the hits didn't fall, it was still a better rebound game for the Huntsville bats. Cole Windham pitched both games for the Dragons and this time around, the Hornet batters saw the ball better.

Against Windham the first time, Huntsville struck out seven times and drew three walks. While they posted three runs, the strikeout ratio needed improvement.

Huntsville struck out twice this time around against Windham and put several balls in play to make it a game.

"We need to get everybody healthy. We were without two of our leading hitters in the lineup. Those guys should be back soon. We hit a lot of balls hard into the gaps, we didn't have a lot to show for it. I was pleased because he got us last time. We just have to string some hits together. I think a big part of that is getting guys healthy and back in the lineup," Jennings said.

Huntsville locked up a playoff spot later Tuesday night after Lufkin took a 9-1 win over Dayton. With three games remaining, Huntsville will have an opportunity to finish the season strong with three games remaining.

The Hornets wrap up the series against Nacogdoches at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Nac.