The pitcher and the catcher in baseball are called the battery and on Thursday the Coastal Bend College battery truly powered the Cougars to a victory over Tyler Junior College in the first game of the three-game series. Lefty pitcher Josh Mendez was brilliant on the mound for the Cougars scattering three hits and giving up two runs - both solo shot home runs - to the second ranked Apaches. His catcher Ronnie Bailey Jr accounted for all five of the Cougar runs from his bat courtesy of two home runs and the go ahead RBI single.
Coastal Bend was down early after a pair of home runs in the first and third innings, but Bailey would change all of that with one swing when he hit a towering home run over the left-field fence to score Kyler Bumstead and Kyle McShaffry who had reached on a walk and single respectively. The Cougars finished the fourth inning leading 3-2.
The two team's would hold that score through the next few innings, until Bumstead, who had singled and stolen second, scampered home on Bailey's single to right-center pushing the Cougar lead to 4-2. The Cougars would see that lead shrink by one when Cody Vega, on in relief of Mendez gave an one run Appachee home run in the top of the 8th inning. Once again Bailey took it upon himself to set things right with his second home run, this one to left-center to put the Cougars back on top 5-3 to send the game to the final frame.
Trent Sholders got the call in the top of the 9th to shut the door on Apaches, and he did that in short order collecting his 11th save of the season. For the Cougars Mendez went seven full innings allowing three hits, two runs while striking out five. Vega pitched one inning giving up the one hit and run, while striking out the other three batters he faced.
The series with Tyler Junior College continues on Friday with game two of the series scheduled for a 2:00 pm start.