Texarkana. Somehow, it always seems to come down to a showdown with Texarkana.
The Angelina College Roadrunner baseball team, currently ranked 16th in the NJCAA national polls, has within its grasp an outright Region XIV East Zone title. In his 15 years leading the ‘Runners, head coach Jeff Livin has won a title twice – and each time, he had to share it with another team. That team?
You guessed it. The Texarkana Bulldogs.
The two programs have waged several epic battles over the past few years, with some of those deciding championships – or eliminating the other from contention. On Saturday, the Roadrunners will travel to Texarkana for a doubleheader in the regular-season finale. At 18-8 in the East Zone following Thursday's split at Northeast Texas, AC is tied with Navarro for first place, with the ‘Runners holding the tiebreaker after taking 3-of-4 from the Corsicana bunch during the regular season.
And yet for Livin and his charges to finish with just their names etched on the plaque, instead of alongside another team, the Roadrunners will need to fare well against their perennial nemesis in Texarkana.
"Best case scenario is to come away with the sweep," Livin said before Friday's practice. "That'll end the conversation right there. But at the very least, we have to match whatever Navarro does (against Paris) and win with the tiebreaker.
"We can't think any other way than winning both games on Saturday. I don't like counting on someone else in situations like this."
Livin will enter Saturday's fray well-armed, to say the least. AC will trot out starters Chase Greening and Bobby McCormack, the one-two punch leading the Roadrunners in pitching. McCormack is 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA in conference play, while Greening is 10-1 on the season with an earned run average of 3.28. Each of those hurlers has shown remarkable poise in big-game situations, which completely defines the upcoming twin bill at Texarkana.