The bi-district round of the UIL baseball playoffs concluded Saturday, with Lyford, Harlingen High and Los Fresnos punching their tickets to the area round.
Harlingen High and Los Fresnos, the two 32-6A teams alive in the postseason, clinched spots in the area round with victories Friday. The Cardinals defeated Edinburgh High 6-2 in the third game of their best-of-three series, and Victor Loa tossed a no-hitter for the Falcons in a 3-1 win over Weslaco High in their one-game playoff.
Harlingen High will play either La Joya High or Laredo United South in the area round. Los Fresnos awaits the winner of PSJA High and Laredo United.
Harlingen South (18-12-2, 9-6 32-6A) was swept by Edinburg Vela in their best-of-three first round playoff series. The Sabercats defeated the Hawks 8-4 on Thursday and 4-2 on Friday.
In District 32-3A, Lyford edged Falfurrias 4-3 in walkoff fashion to earn a date with Odem in the area round at 7 p.m. Friday in Hebbronville.
District 32-5A champion Brownsville Veterans Memorial and District 32-6A champion Rivera saw their seasons come to an abrupt end in bi-district play.
The Raiders (22-10, 11-4 32-6A) were swept by Edinburg North, dropping the first game of the best-of-three series 5-1 on Thursday and losing 9-7 on Friday.
The top two Brownsville schools in 32-5A were knocked out in one-game playoffs Friday night in Mission. The Chargers (23-6-2, 13-1 32-5A) were stunned by La Joya Palmview, losing 2-0. Sharyland Pioneer defeated Brownsville Lopez 10-0 in five innings. The Lobos ended their season at 17-6-2 with a district record of 9-5.
Lopez catcher Mague Mendoza was hit in the head by a pitch in the fourth inning of Friday night’s game. After collapsing in the dugout, he was sent to DHR Health Hospital.
Lopez coach Victor H. Martinez said Mendoza was discharged from the hospital in good condition.
“(Mendoza) left the hospital in the middle of the night,” Martinez said via text message. “Everything was positive. He is currently doing good (despite) the pain.”
Sitting at two games below .500 on March 22, Rio Hondo went on a tear to clinch the fourth playoff spot in District 32-4A, salvaging their season with a 7-3 run during their last 10 games.
But the Bobcats (14-14-1, 8-6 32-4A) ran into a buzzsaw in Sinton ace Brett Brown, dropping their one-game playoff 4-0 to the Pirates. Brown pitched a complete game, allowing three hits and striking out 11 Rio Hondo hitters.
“We played solid, we played great defense,” Rio Hondo coach Sergio Gonzalez said. “We didn’t give up any unearned runs. We made all the routine plays and I told the boys I thought we played a pretty good game against them.”
Daniel Garza went five innings on the mound for the Bobcats, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and striking out three. Christian Garza allowed one run on one hit (a solo home run in the seventh inning) and picked up one strikeout in two innings of work in relief.
Gonzalez said he was impressed by his team’s behavior and composure on the field and in the dugout the entire day.
“I think the seniors did a great job of leading the team,” Gonzalez said. “I expected the seniors to lead and the younger ones to follow, and I thought the seniors did a pretty good job of doing that last night.”
The Bobcats may have made a larger impression on the community of Hebbronville with their actions after the game than anything they did on the field.
The team went to nearby Pizza Inn for dinner after the game. Gonzalez said he was referred to the restaurant by his longtime friend, Hebbronville High baseball coach Gonzie Trevino. Trevino put Gonzalez in touch with the owner of the local Pizza Inn franchise, which hosted Hidalgo’s postgame dinner Wednesday in Hebbronville.
Gonzalez tweeted a screenshot of a text message that said the restaurant owner called to say “he and his staff have never seen a group of young men carry themselves like our boys did. They were impressed by the manners and respect and clean up we did for them. … He said we may have lost on the field, but we are doing a great job of grooming them to be young men.”
Gonzalez said that the program regularly tracks the behavior of its players, and the expectations and standards for behavior apply both on and off the field. He said message was shared with the Rio Hondo athletic department and administration, and relayed throughout the district as an example of outstanding conduct.
“It was pretty neat how the owner called us and was very impressed by us,” Gonzalez said. “That’s something that we really take a lot of pride in, and as far as character, that’s going to last with them for the rest of their lives.”