When a baseball game ends before a concurrently scheduled softball contest does, one can be sure that the former tilt is a real pitcher’s duel. And this was the case Friday at EHS when the Bobcat-Cougar clash culminated before the EHS-Weslaco softball battle was done.
In this case, the well-played collision in baseball was headlined by great mound work, relatively faultless defensive work, and not a ton of hitting.
Senior Tyler Flores was the man of the hour for the Bobcats, spinning a four-hit shutout and striking out 12 as the ‘Cats evened their district mark at 4-4 with a 2-1 decision over North, which dropped to 4-5. Almost as sound was senior Argelio Guajardo of North, who fanned 10 and allowed just four hits in the defeat.
Hitting his spots and keeping the Coogs off balance, Flores pitched his club to the win, thanks to a first-inning run courtesy of a wild pitch and a fourth-inning tally off an RBI single from freshman Darren Barrera, who waited on a Guajardo curve and blasted a hit driving in junior Ethan Rivera from second after the latter had singled and stole second.
The Coogs threatened in the middle frames, getting two aboard in the fourth before Flores recorded a strikeout to end the inning. In the fifth, sophomore Mikey Contreras clouted a prodigious one-out triple only to die at third, and in the sixth EHS turned a double play to get out of trouble.
In climbing into the fourth spot in 31-6A, Coach Robert Valdez’ youthful group benefited from the play of Brandon Morin, who walked twice, scored a run, and made a super running catch of a foul pop down the right-field line to end that fifth.
Down to their last bat, the Coogs – who have lost four in a row after a sharp 4-1 start, scoring just seven times in the stretch – got a rocket off the bat of Robert Flores which sailed just foul. The dangerous Flores then flied out deep to center and Tyler Flores of EHS struck out the final two hitters to complete his best start of 2019.
“It was a very good effort tonight all around,” said Valdez, who won the war against younger brother Rick of North, evening the season series at one apiece. “Tyler came along early in the season, got some innings, and he picked a fine time to have his best outing. The whole team played as a unit tonight.
“Tyler believed in the process, and so did the team; this was big for us, especially with the incentive based on the standings, plus our seniors getting their last chance to play against the Cougars.”
Now the ‘Cats get ready for a showdown against Econ Tuesday, after the Jags stomped Donna North, 13-6 Friday to rise to 3-5 in the league. Meanwhile, Vela got another terrific effort at home against Weslaco, winning 14-0 behind the hitting of Ramsey Amador and the hurling of Nico Rodriguez. Amador smacked a two-run single to break up a scoreless tie in the fifth and Rodriguez notched 14 K’s, the fifth straight start in which he has fanned at least 10.
Marc Esquivel, who no-hit Econ Tuesday, drove home two with a double in the 4-0 victory over Weslaco, as the SaberCats recorded their ninth league win without a blemish.
The EHS softball girls hung tough Friday against Weslaco, fighting to a 3-3 tie through four before fading in an 8-3 defeat. The Lady Bobcats are now 4-6 with Vela and Donna North left on the schedule and are in fifth behind 5-5 Weslaco East.
East, however, has tough matches left against Weslaco and Vela, meaning EHS has a shot at still making the grade; the Lady ‘Cats and Lady Wildcats of East split the season series, and if they end up tied, a playoff or flip will be in order to decide No. 4 in 31-6A.
Senior Kristee Salas – usually an infielder – was behind the plate for EHS Friday, and will be even more busy this week, competing in the regional tennis tournament, in mixed doubles.