Cowboys stretch 28-5A lead
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Burbank, Harlandale, Lanier, McCollum, Sam Houston.
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There’s no question that Harlandale and Sam Houston are two of the emerging teams in District 28-5A. What’s been surprising is how fast the process is occurring.
Those things considered, though, there still was the open question of which would emerge victorious when they met March 24 on SAISD Field No. 1.
It remained open until the final out was recorded, although Harlandale (8-4-1, 6-1) tallied the winning runs in the sixth inning. Three Indians errors left the door open for the Hurricanes (8-6, 4-4) to make the final score 5-4.
“We did execute well,” said Harlandale coach Eric Forestier, who has no senior starters. “We did some good things offensively. The problem was defense. Even though they’re young, we still have to finish ballgames.”
Second-place Harlandale stunned third-place Burbank (7-6, 5-2) 11-1 March 27 at the Tejeda Complex. The Indians took a four-game winning streak into a March 30 showdown with its rival, district-leading McCollum (7-5, 7-0).
“We obviously did a lot better against Burbank,” Forestier said. “We still had a couple of errors, but we put the ball in play and scored runs.”
It was the Hurricanes’ second one-run district loss in a three-game span.
However, Sam Houston also used the game as a springboard. The Hurricanes finally had some breathing room March 27 in a 9-4 win over Lanier (2-11, 1-6) that concluded the first half of the 28-5A season.
“We’re just trying to take care of our business,” said 11th year Sam Houston coach Melton Schultz, whose team was 1-18 last year. “The kids have come a long way. They believe in themselves.”
Harlandale employed a combination of a key bunt and three base hits in the sixth to reinforce its 3-2 lead.
Base hits from freshman Shawn Tober and Richard Acosta started the rally. Indians freshman Jeremy Rocha did the damage with a two-run single.
Donny Campos was hit by a pitch and Taveon Jones placed a single just inside the first-base line in the Sam Houston seventh. Both scored. St. Gerard transfer Thomas Jones, one of four brothers from the family on the Hurricanes, was safe on an error and reached third base before Harlandale extinguished the threat.
“The big thing is that these kids have made this team a family,” Schultz said. “That’s all because of the kids. They played in summer leagues and played in a winter league this year. From all those extra games, they’ve gained experience and (knowledge) of the game.”
Sam Houston scored in the first inning on an RBI single from Brandon Jones, the team’s third-consecutive hit. The Indians tied it in the second on Acosta’s RBI ground out.
A safety squeeze from Christian Slocume – who also gave Harlandale the lead with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly – put the Indians ahead 2-1. Sam Houston tied it again in the third when Thomas Jones singled and scored on an error.
“I think we’re OK with pitching,” Forestier said. “The key against Burbank is we only gave up one walk. We made them put the ball in play – no free rides.”
In the Indians’ win over Burbank, Harlandale assembled a four-run third inning that assured the win. Burbank had had pulled within 2-1 in the top of the inning. The Indians pushed across five more runs in the fourth.
Tober pitched his second win of the week for Harlandale.
Timothy Smith went 3-for-4 with two RBIs for the Indians. Rocha was 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Nathan Reyes drove in two runs.
Against Lanier, Sam Houston broke the game open with a six-run third inning. Robert Medina and Rudy Lopez hit home runs for the Hurricanes. Nicholas Mojica homered for the Voks.
The Hurricanes have built off a runner-up finish at the Edgewood ISD Tournament in the early stages of the season. After struggling with numbers in recent seasons, Sam Houston currently has a robust 40 players in the program
“The biggest thing that’s making a difference is that they played in the summer league and they even played in a winter league this year,” Schultz said. “All those extra games have given them experience and (knowledge) of the game.”
The Cowboys maintained their 28-5A lead with three wins between March 23 and March 27.
McCollum finished the week with a 26-0 win over Edison (2-12, 0-7) at SAISD Field No. 1. The Cowboys, who have scored 10 or more runs in six district games, edged Brackenridge (7-7, 3-4) 6-3 March 23 and Highlands (7-4, 5-2) 13-11 March 24.
Against Brackenridge on Field No. 1, McCollum scored four runs in the first two innings but had to stave off a three-run rally by the Eagles in the seventh. Hector Arevalo was the winning pitcher.
At Tejeda Field, Highlands established a 10-2 lead midway through the third inning. The Cowboys closed within 10-6 in the bottom of the inning. They trailed by the same margin, until scoring five runs in the sixth.
Ralph Ramirez led McCollum with three triples and six RBIs. Anthony Blackburn contributed three hits and three RBIs. A.J. Vasquez produced two RBIs.
Bryan Aguilar, Alex Esqueda and David Perez drove in two runs apiece for the Owls.