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Patriots and Eagles set to open playoffs

20130419 Baseball RGC vs Veterans lg-32After having clinched a share of the District 32-4A championship against the Mission High School (MHS) Eagles, the Veterans Memorial High School (VMHS) Patriots baseball team claimed the title outright last Friday evening with their 9-4 home field victory over the Rio Grande City Rattlers. With the win, Coach Casey Smith’s Patriots improved their district record to 12-1 (25-4 overall) with only winless PSJA Southwest (0-13) left on their district schedule.

Against Rio Grande, VMHS fell behind when the Rattlers scored two runs on a double, a walk, a passed ball and an errant throw to first base in the top of the second inning. The Patriots responded quickly however when they scored two of their own in the bottom of the frame with J.R. Martinez’ clutch single which drove in teammates Edward Pena and Isaac Guerrero.

VMHS went on to score two additional runs in the third, four in the fifth and one in the sixth innings. Patriots’ pitcher Edward Pena held the Rattlers to single runs in the fifth and the sixth frames for the 9-4 title clinching victory.

VMHS right fielder Isaac Guerrero was named player of the game against Rio Grande as a result of going two for two at the plate with a double, three runs batted in and three stolen bases. Other Patriots’ standouts against the Rattlers included catcher Brandon Ibarra who went three for four and scored two runs, and sophomore pitcher Edward Pena who improved his record to 10-0 with the complete game victory.

Having the district title under their belts, the Patriots can now begin looking forward to the playoffs. As for who, when and where Smith’s boys will be opening the playoffs against, that has not yet been determined.

“We won’t know who we’ll be playing in bi-district until Friday evening at the earliest,” explained Smith. “Right now it looks as if we’ll be playing either Flour Bluff or Laredo Martin. Once we know who we’re playing we will then decide when and where we’ll play. Chances are that the game will be Monday of next week.”

As for Coach Rick Lozano’s Mission Eagles baseball team, their current 8-5 district record (16-13 overall) is good enough for a third place tie with the Roma Gladiators in District 32-4A and has assured them a spot in the playoffs with only tonight’s game at Mercedes left on their schedule.

Depending on the outcome of tonight’s games, the Eagles could finish district play in either a tie for second place with Rio Grande and possibly Roma, a tie for third with Roma or in sole possession of either third or fourth place. Where they end up in the standings will be the deciding factor in which District 31-4A team Mission will open the playoffs against next week.

“We will most likely play either Corpus Christi Ray or Alice in bi-district,” said Lozano. “They still have a game to play just like we do so we don’t know how their district standings are going to end up. The pairings will be determined by the final standings with each district’s first place team playing the other district’s fourth place team and each second place team playing the other’s third place team so a lot can change depending on who wins and who loses their final games.”

While the Eagles’ head coach is glad to be in the playoffs, he’s hoping for more consistent play in the post season.

“We’ve had some adversity to deal with this season, including three major injuries,” added Lozano. “Three of our losses have been by one run so even though we’re in third place right now we could be doing better. I just hope that we’ll play well enough from here on out to go deep into the playoffs.”

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