SOFTBALL: Brennan out-rallies Brackenridge in 28-4A thriller

Defending champ Bears score 7 in seventh for win

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For five innings, neither of the top two teams in District 28-4A could find a way to get a run. Then chaos ensued.

A Brennan rally was topped by a Brackenridge rally, setting the stage for seventh-inning fireworks March 4 at Mary Ann Villarreal Field No. 1. The defending champion Bears (11-3, 2-0) exploded for seven runs in the final inning to record a 12-5 victory over Brackenridge (8-5-1, 0-1).

“Whenever it gets down to crunch time, we pull it out,” Brennan coach Ruby de la Garza said. “We need to jump on it quick and stay on it, as opposed to having to scratch and fight to win.”

Brennan had taken a 4-0 lead in the top of the sixth after Jolynn Ortiz and Gabby Acuna drew leadoff walks from Brackenridge ace Alexis Berlanga. Laikyn Modra followed with an RBI single on a misplayed drive to the outfield and Miranda Mueller drilled a two-run triple. An overthrow on the relay throw sent Mueller home for a 4-0 lead.

Neither team had gotten a runner past second base through five innings. Suddenly, the outcome appeared to be decided.

“I didn’t know if we could dig ourselves out,” Brackenridge coach Robyn Murken said. “But we did it, only to dig a deeper hole.”

Brackenridge took the lead with a rally that began in the bottom of the sixth inning when Miranda Sandoval drew a leadoff walk. Next up was Allie Castillo, who slapped a single through the left side of the infield. A bunt single from Jacklynn Nevarez loaded the bases for Lexus Lozano, who lifted a sacrifice fly that cut the Eagles deficit to 4-1.

Eagles catcher Jackie Rodriguez dropped a single into center field that brought home a second run. A triple to right-center field from Celeste Canales tied it 4-4.

“She hit it to the right spot,” Murken said of the two-RBI hit. “It was a low pitch, but she stayed on it and rapped it to right field. She went for it.”

Brackenridge took the lead when Alyssa Berlanga was safe on an error.

Brennan didn’t waste any time getting retaliation. They scored seven runs without making an out.

Lexi Yorkman was safe on a bunt to the pitcher’s circle, leading off the bottom of the seventh. Jacqui Aguirre also bunted and was safe on an overthrow at first base.

“If we would have executed and got those two outs on bunts, I really believe we would have ended it right there,” Murken said. “We let up and got caught off-guard.”

Winning pitcher Iliana Martinez loaded the bases by drawing a walk. Then Ortiz drove a grand-slam home run over the wall in straightaway left field. The blast instantly gave the Bears an 8-5 lead.

“Before the inning, I told the girls, ‘Don’t swing for the fence,’ ” de la Garza said. “But I talked to Jolynn and told her, ‘Just hit a fly ball.’ A sacrifice fly would have tied it up and put us back in the game, and we still would have had one out.”

Acuna and Modra followed with back-to-back doubles.

“She has a great team,” de la Garza said of Murken. “She always does. When we play Robin’s team, it’s always going to be a fight. You have to be prepared and everybody has to come together.”

Berlanga (8-6) didn’t give up a hit until Acuna led off the fourth with a single. Brandy Brown collected Brennan’s only other hit in the first five innings against the junior, who is in her second season as the Eagles’ ace.

“She’s throwing a lot better this year,” Murken said. “She just goes right at (batters). She doesn’t let things get her down.”

Before Brackenridge’s big inning, the Eagles only hit came from Lozano in the fourth, after Nevarez was safe on an error. Brennan escaped the one-out threat when Modra grabbed a line drive at shortstop and threw to second for a double play.

BOYS BASKETBALL: Sam Houston’s Cinderella run ends in Class 3A semis

Hurricanes within six late in third, but Madison dominates final quarter

Sam Houston’s young team stormed out of the locker room at halftime and made a game of it, but top-ranked Dallas Madison had more gas left in the tank thereafter and advanced to the Class 3A finals Thursday afternnoon at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin in the semifinals.

Dallas Madison (29-3), No. 6 in the final Texas Association of Basketball Coaches state poll, pulled away with a 10-3 spurt over a four-and-a-half-minute stretch that spanned the fourth quarters to win 77-62. Sam Houston had closed to 57-51 with 1:02 remaining in the third quarter after falling behind by 15 points with about two minutes until halftime.

With the victory, the Trojans advanced to play Houston Yates (24-8), which handed Kennedale its first loss of the season 86-79 in the other semifinal, at 10 a.m. Saturday for the 3A championship.

The No. 6 Hurricanes, who finished 27-10, put together an impressive run of their own to climb back into the game.

Down 44-31, they fell behind by 15 again with a little less than six minutes to play on a basket from Madison’s Cameron Bryant (19 points, 5 assists). A three-point basket from Hurricanes senior Jordon Harris (29 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals) started the flurry with 5:35 left in the quarter. Sophomore wing Robert Christian (12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals) followed with a layup that put Sam Houston within 10 points for the first time in eight minutes.

Sam Houston 6-foot-3 junior Devin Allen (8 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists) scored off a rebound and Harris recorded a layup that slashed Madison’s lead to 51-42 midway through the third quarter. The Hurricanes weren’t able to capitalize on a steal from freshman Jawon Anderson (10 points), but Anderson scored in the paint off another Madison turnover.

Trailing by seven, Sam Houston watched the Trojans score the next two baskets, including a fast-break layup by Roderick Johnson off a steal. However, one of Allen’s five 3-pointers and a jumper from Christian brought the Hurricanes within 57-51.

Sam Houston had a chance to cut the lead to four, but Trojans center Johnathan Turner (23 points, 10 rebounds) blocked a shot. Madison guard Armon Gilder (29 points, 11 rebounds) converted a steal into a layup with one second left in the third quarter to boost the lead to eight.

A fast-break layup from Christian off a steal from Harris and a free throw from sophomore Raymonte Prime (5 rebounds), Sam Houston’s quarterback in football season, had the Hurricanes within seven points with 5:42 to play. However, the Trojans scored the next six points to end the threat.

“We tried to full-court press,” Sam Houston coach Ike Thornton said, “but it (cost us) some layups. It’s tough to get back in the game if you aren’t able to extend pressure.”

As they have throughout the postseason, the Hurricanes got off to a good start in the state semifinal.

Christian connected on a jumper 24 seconds into the game for a 2-0 lead. The Trojans scored the next six, but Harris cut Madison’s lead to 6-4 with a layup off a steal from Anderson. Allen dished to Harris for a three-pointer and Sam Houston was within 8-7 with 4:24 left in the opening quarter.

Another three-pointer from Harris made it Madison 12-10 with 3:06 remaining in the first quarter. Harris averaged 24.3 points in the Hurricanes’ six postseason games.

Sam Houston had a chance to tie the score following a Trojans miss, but committed a turnover. Dallas Madison ran off the next six points and launched a 13-4 run that firmly asserted its control.

“This is a special group,” Thornton said. “I’m very proud of them. They have come together.”

Sam Houston shot in the 46- to 48-percent range through most of the game, but fell off to 41.9 percent at the end, after trying to shoot their way back into it with three-pointers. Dallas Madison made 46 percent of its 63 field-goal attempts.

The Hurricanes, who played no one taller than the 6-3 Allen, did an admirable job on the boards against the taller Trojans. Dallas Madison had a slim 40-36 rebounding advantage.

Statistically, the most revealing numbers were in the turnover and free throw discrepancies. Madison finished with 14 turnovers to Sam Houston’s 22, which led to 25 Trojans points and helped them estalish a 26-10 advantage in fast-break points. The Trojans made 17 of 24 free throws (70.2 percent), while the Hurricanes were four of 10 from the line (40 percent).

The loss ended a 15-game winning streak for Sam Houston. It was the school’s sixth state tournament appearance and first since 2005.

The Hurricanes will lose only Harris and wing Brandon Seals, who grabbed a rebound in the waning moments, to graduation. They will move up to Class 5A and compete in District 28-5A next season.

“This is the first time Sam Houston has been to state in some years,” Anderson said. “It was just a great experience.”

BASEBALL: South San vs. Brandeis photo gallery, Feb. 28, 2014 (photos by KJ Toso)

Photos taken by KJ Toso. For more photos or to purchase photos, please visit: http://kjtoso.photoshelter.com

South San catcher Adrian Gallegos tags out a runner at the plate off a strong throw from center fielder Nick Herrera. Gallegos hit a two-run, game-winning home run in the next inning.
South San catcher Adrian Gallegos tags out a runner at the plate off a strong throw from center fielder Nick Herrera. Gallegos hit a two-run, game-winning home run in the next inning.

Isaac Lugo was the winning pitcher in South San's 4-3 decision over Brandeis in the NEISD Tournament.
Isaac Lugo was the winning pitcher in South San’s 4-3 decision over Brandeis in the NEISD Tournament.
South San junior Frank Bosmans dives back to the bag to beat a Brandeis pickoff attempt.
South San junior Frank Bosmans dives back to the bag to beat a Brandeis pickoff attempt.
South San senior Daniel Delgado evaluates a letter-high pitch.
South San senior Daniel Delgado evaluates a letter-high pitch.