BASEBALL: Cowboys attend to business at hand with 8-2 win over Southside

Harlandale, Kennedy also score big wins on 29-4A final day

By Mike Considine

FOR A FULL STORY ON SOUTHSIDE VS. McCOLLUM baseball (April 27, 2013 @ Frank Tejeda Complex), click here:

McCollum fully understood that the stakes have been raised Saturday at the Frank Tejeda Complex.

The Cowboys (22-4, 11-3) made the playoffs last week, locked up second place in District 29-5A with a win over rival Harlandale Thursday and even had the bi-district dates and times set before they took the field against Southside (7-20, 3-11). Although the program is headed for its first postseason in several years, McCollum knew it was no time to relax.

In fact, the Cowboys played well in all facets of the game while defeating the Cardinals 8-2 – just as any veteran postseason-bound team hopes to do in its final district game.

“Our kids are excited the season’s not over,” Garza said. “They wanted to keep the momentum, going into the playoffs. That was the key.”

McCollum finished ahead of Harlandale in the district standings. The Indians won 2-0 at Uvalde as senior Michael Agis pitched a three-hitter. The win put Harlandale in third ahead of the Coyotes. Kennedy also broke a tie Saturday, winning 5-3 at Floresville to take sole custody of fifth place.

Southside finished seventh. Its season ended with the loss. Cardinals coach Fernando Garcia indicated that the 2014 season will unofficially begin Monday, as team begins its offseason training regimen.

Along with Kennedy, Southside was one of the youngest teams in the district this season. Next year, the junior-heavy Cardinals hope to make the same type of performance jump that McCollum made from last year to this year.

“Hopefully, they’ll come back with a focus,” he said. “We’ll re-evaluate things and see how we can do things differently that didn’t go our way.

“It’ll start with our approach on Monday. We’ll try to keep respecting the game,.leave everything on the field and play hard all seven innings. If they buy into that (philosophy), we’ll do well.”

McCollum will play host to Gregory-Portland (21-7-1) in a three-game bi-district series. The first game is tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Game 2 will take place at noon next Saturday at G-P, with the third game to follow it, if necessary.

“It’s been three years since my freshman year,” said Cowboys senior Jonathan Arevalo, who effectively put the game out of reach with a fifth-inning, two-run double. “We’ve been working for it. We want to make this year memorable.

“Since freshman year, we thought we could make (the playoffs), but never made it. Other teams would beat us badly. But now it’s a different situation. Now it’s us winning those games.

“We’re very ready for this.”

Arevalo’s sophomore brother, Hector, pitched six shutout innings while the Cowboys built their lead. Although Southside scored twice in the final inning, the younger Arevalo pitched out of the jam.

“I was just relaxed,” Hector said. “I tried to control myself and throw strikes. We really wanted to win this game. We’re going into the playoffs, so we didn’t want to let up. I wanted to keep the team up.”

McCollum scored twice in the first inning as Ryan Villalobos hit into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded. An RBI single from Hector Arevalo made it 3-0 after two innings.

Jesse Medina had a sacrifice fly in the fifth ahead of Jonathan Arevalo’s two-run double that gave the Cowboys a 6-0 cushion. Rafael Ramirez produced another run with a single to right field.

McCollum’s final run came courtesy of a double from Medina.

Southside had seven hits, but didn’t break through on the scoreboard until its last at-bat. Gabe Botello’s slicing drive up the middle took a dive at just the right time to skip all the way to the fence. Botello rounded the bases for a rare inside-the-park home run.

It was Botello’s second home run of the season.

“Southside played well,” Garza said. “We didn’t hit the ball as well as we wanted to, but our pitchers threw strikes and we played good defense. In three of the four games we lost, we didn’t throw strikes.”