Cardinals find ways to score on Laredo Martin
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Southside.
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April 10 at Southside, the host Cardinals seemed to be on a scavenger hunt to score runs in every way possible.
They touched on most of them in fashioning a 14-3 District 29-5A victory over Laredo Martin. It was the second win over Martin this season for Southside (8-13, 4-7).
“We were able to get runners on and score,” first-year Southside coach Amy Behlen said. “I think we found about every way to score there is. It worked for us.”
Southside scored five runs on wild pitches, four on Martin errors, one on a ground out, one on a double steal, one on a hit batsman, and finally a two-RBI single that invoked the 10-run rule.
Perhaps the statistic that mattered most to Behlen was this: Southside scored eight runs with two outs.
“We’ve been scoring with two outs,” said Behlen, an assistant coach at East Central the past several seasons. “We’ve been able to keep thinking ahead and execute our game plan. Hopefully, we can take that into Medina Valley (April 14), who’s going to be really tough.”
Southside ended the game with a 10-run rally in the fifth inning. To accomplish that, however, the Cardinals needed a shutdown performance from relief pitcher Isabel Gonzales.
“I like to be under pressure,” Gonzales said.
The junior allowed a run charged to her predecessor with a two-out wild pitch. Despite the momentary lapse, Gonzales retired the first five batters she faced and didn’t allow a hit in three innings.
“Isabel did a good job of mixing up her pitches and keeping them off-balance ,” Behlen said. “She kept them off the bases.”
Martin took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single and a run-scoring ground out. Southside tied it 2-2 in the second when starting pitcher Brianna Hernandez was hit by a pitch and her courtesy runner, Zoe Beltran, scored on a well-placed bunt from Tyler Bolton (2-for-3, 2 RBIs). Andrea Garza’s ground out brought in the tying run.
After the first two Tigers batters reached base in the third, Behlen elected to make a pitching change and called on Gonzales.
“My curve was working,” she said. “Sometimes that’s my best pitch and sometimes it’s my slider, but it started working in warmups.”
The Tigers’ 3-2 lead held up until the bottom of the fourth, when an overthrow on a well-hit grounder from Mayra Sendejo brought in the tying and lead runs.
“We were trying to make sure we got on and pushed runners up,” Behlen said. “That was one of our most successful goals. We talked this morning about quality at-bats and ways to get on base.”
Gonzales led off the fateful fifth with a single to left field. In the inning, the Cardinals manufactured their sustained rally from a combination of five walks, three hits and two more Martin errors. In that inning alone, Southside scored four runs on on wild pitches.
“We had to start slow and just finish strong,” Gonzales said. “Our confidence is good. At times it drops, but we try to stay strong.”
Wild pitches hiked the Cardinals’ lead to 7-3 with two outs. Bolton scored on a double steal and yet another wild pitch brought in Nicki Benavides.
With a six-run cushion, Sendejo singled and stole two bases. A walk and an error loaded the bases. Southside capitalized by tacking on three more runs without a hit ahead of Bolton’s walk-off drive to the left-center field gap.
It was Southside’s sixth hit and a fitting finish for the Cardinals, who had found a way to win without scoring in the traditional way.
“That’s what I’ve tried to stress with this group – if they give 100 percent effort at all times, they’ll get the payoff,” Behlen said. “They’ve been working hard. It’s a very young team. Because of injuries, I’ve had to pull up three freshmen. But we have versatility – we can move kids around and have so much flexibility.”