No. 1 George Ranch tosses no-hitter at Dawson diamondmen

PEARLAND — The George Ranch Longhorns showed why they are the No. 1 state-ranked 6A team after pitcher Joseph Menefee tossed a no-hitter at the Dawson Eagles to improve to 2-0 in the league standings. It was Dawson's District 23-6A opener to begin league competition.

Menefee, a Texas A&M commit, struck out 11 Eagle batters while hitting one batter and walking another in an otherwise near perfect display of pitching control.

The Longhorns (17-1) are the clear favorite to capture the District 23-6A title this year and Pearland and Dawson will have their work cut out if they are going to challenge for the crown.

Menefee retired the first 16 batters he faced before he hit Jared Kirk. A pickoff attempt that got past the first baseman sent Kirk to third, but Menefee stayed focused to get the next two batters out on a popup to shortstop and a strikeout to end the inning.

The Eagles presented no real threat to the righthander as Dawson got only one more runner on base and that was a two-out walk to John Sebok. But the game ended when the next batter, Gino Iannuzzi, line out to end the game with the 3-0 loss.

George Ranch scored the first run in the bottom of the second inning when Menefee helped his own cause with a single to center. Dawson pitcher Adam Houghtaling walked the next two batters to load the bases before Bailey Allen lofted a one-out sacrifice fly to right for the 1-0 lead.

The Longhorns added two more runs in the fifth inning on a double, single, an errant throw and then Menefee capped the frame off with another single for the 3-0 cushion that would ultimately stand as the final score in favor of George Ranch.

Dawson got an outstanding effort by Houghtaling on the mound as he worked five innings, and scattered only four-hits in the first four frames while striking out two and walking two.

Brett Jackson stepped up in relief for the final two innings.

"Adam threw a great game," Dawson head coach Kerry Cox said. "We got an unfortunate call on the balk, or Adam could have easily shut them down or held them to a run.

"I wasn't too disappointed giving up three runs, but when you've got a guy (Menefee) throwing like their lefty, every run is a huge run. He throws hard and he has good two-seam action and good control. He's a quality pitcher."

Cox knows this is only the first district game and there are a lot of games ahead for the Eagles to make their impact in the district race.

"You wouldn't know it from this game, but we're hitting .320 as a team," Cox said. "But you don't see a guy like Menefee every game either.

"We're kind of growing up. We just have to keep plugging and getting better, and I think we'll be there at the end."