Having endured a week during which they failed to score a run in consecutive losses, the Jags came out Tuesday with a simple plan: swing the bats.
This they did with alacrity at home against P-SJ-A Southwest, sending 14 batters to the plate in the first inning and blasting out to a 9-0 lead before a very satisfied Parents Night crowd.
The end result, after an equally offensive 10-run second, was a 19-2 demolition of the Javelinas, just what Coach Rigo Sanchez had in mind.
“Yes, we didn’t attack the pitchers last week, couldn’t seem to string together many hits,” said Sanchez, who club improved to 3-2 in district with the victory. The Jags were blanked by P-SJ-A and North last week, by a combined count of 19-0. “We needed to come out here tonight and swing the bats, score some runs, and it was a big win for us. Now we just have to keep hitting like that and we’ll be alright.”
Leading the hit parade against a Javelina team at the bottom of the league were the usual suspects, senior bangers Gerardo de Leon and Ismael Lopez, who each smashed the ball every time up.
Lopez started on the mound and went just two innings, yielding to two other Jag hurlers. The hard-throwing right-hander was just fine, but with the interminable first inning, he spent 40 minutes of inactivity, and Sanchez chose to pull him with the outcome in zero doubt.
As Econ faced a road game at Pharr North Friday and then a battle back at home against Vela Tuesday, that wise move meant that Lopez, who threw just 46 pitches Tuesday, would be imminently available going forward.
The Jags stole four bases in the telltale first frame and benefited from three errors, a wild pitch, and a passed ball to go with seven base hits of their own.
“We do have some decent speed this year and we always try to be aggressive on the bases,” said Sanchez, whose team barely missed the playoffs last year and is bent on making it in 2017. “Keeping the pressure on the other team is part of our game plan, we think if we force teams to field the ball and try and throw us out, they will eventually make some mistakes.”
Junior Pablo Juarez and senior Eli Alanis, hitting at the top of the order, were a combined 3 for 3 with two walks and a HBP as the Jags rolled during the first two innings. Up and down the lineup, batters attacked the Southwest hurlers and came through with solid shots. Seniors Isaac Ortiz and Gilbert Montez slapped a pair hits each in the early detonation.
As for the future, the Jags are right there, fighting for a spot in the postseason, which would mark the program’s first appearance in more than a decade.
“We said from Day One that this is what we are playing for, to make the playoffs,” said the coach, whose patient tutelage and rapport with the kids has really made a difference out east. “Last year, we came close, and this year the guys know that we have no excuses: it’s time for us to make it, we have the talent and we need to continue to execute, swing the bats, and field our positions. Game by game, we are building toward achieving our goal.”
In other Tuesday action, North defeated EHS, 8-3 to rise to 5-0 while Vela improved to 4-1 by edging past Pharr North, 6-5. The SaberCats then got ready for a big one Friday at home against undefeated P-SJ-A while the Coogs were at home versus Memorial and the 1-4 Bobcats prepared for a road game against Southwest.
The Jags took a step backward with a 4-3 loss to Pharr North but the Bobcats went forward, courtesy of a 6-1 victory against Southwest. North crumpled Memorial 15-0 at home to prepare for Tuesday’s showdown with P-SJ-A; however, the Bears are no longer undefeated after Vela pulled off a clutch 6-4 win against them Friday night. The SaberCats (5-1) are tied for second now with P-SJ-A, North out in front at 6-0. Econ (3-3) has a game lead on both EHS and the Raiders; they play the Jags Tuesday and then comes the rematch with North as the second half kicks off Friday.