Cardinals’ Harlan shuts the door on East as Red Birds win 5th straight

HARLINGEN — In the top of the seventh inning, with two outs on the board, all eyes at Harlingen Field on Thursday followed the ball as it slowly sailed across the sky.

Twenty hitters had come to the plate and sat down as Harlingen’s Connor Harlan was on the verge of a perfect game. That is until Weslaco East pitcher Hector Covarrubias stepped up to the plate and hit a double, breaking the hearts of the Cardinal faithful.

Despite that, the Harlingen Cardinals would go on to defeat the Weslaco East Wildcats 1-0.

However, it was a win that felt like a loss.

“We’ll take the W, but it was a tight ball game,” said Harlingen head coach Bryan Aughney. “But our pitcher is the story of the night with a one-hit shutout, no walks. He did an outstanding job. He had a perfect game for 6 2/3 innings, so when you score one run it makes things really easy on our offense.

“Offensively we struggled and we weren’t who we are. We got out of rhythm but fortunately we were able to get a guy on and move him and get a single to drive him in. But we’ll take the win going into a big game on Tuesday.

With the win the Cardinals (9-2) stay on top of the District 32-6A standings, tied with the Los Fresnos Falcons (9-2), which defeated Brownsville Hanna 1-0 on Thursday night. The win also sets up a district showdown on Tuesday between Harlingen and Los Fresnos.

The lone run of the night came in the third inning for Harlingen. With one out on the board and a runner on second, Harlingen’s Boedy Flores smashed a single to center field, scoring Kenny Reininger from second base. Flores would finish the night 1 of 3.

However, all anybody could talk about was the no-hitter that almost took place.

“Connor was outstanding tonight,” said Aughney. “He was locating the fastball for strikes and locating the curveball for strikes, and his change up was on tonight. I really loved his demeanor and his maturity on the mound, and just an outstanding effort by him.”