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Talk about pressure. In a fight for their playoff lives, the La Joya Palmview Lobos found themselves in a do-or-die situation Monday evening when they took the field against the Edinburg Bobcats. In what was a one game playoff to determine District 30-5A’s final playoff qualifier, the winner-take-all scenario became necessary when the two teams, who split their two head-to-head district games, ended regular season play in a tie for fourth place with identical 10-6 records.
Thanks to a stellar pitching performance by Chris Rocha and a clutch hit by right fielder Jose Chapa, it was Coach Ricky Garcia’s Lobos who emerged victorious and who will be playing Laredo United in the bi-district round of the state playoffs this weekend.
“We needed to get in,” said Garcia. “This makes three times out of the past five years that we’ve made the playoffs. That’s something for our seniors to start as a tradition and if they can show this to the young ones we’ll be a tough team to play. Being so young we’ve had a rollercoaster ride but when my players come together to play ball they play tough.”
With Palmview holding on to a slim 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, Chapa gave his team a three run cushion when he came up to bat with a runner on first and one out. That was when he hit a solid line drive to short centerfield that skipped past the Bobcats’ centerfielder and rolled all the way to the wall. By the time the Edinburg outfielder recovered and got the ball back into the infield, Chapa had rounded the bases and scored on what turned out to be a two run inside-the-park homerun.
It was Chapa’s hustle that allowed him to turn what could’ve easily been a double or a triple into his first ever homerun as he heeded his coach’s words and run all out from the time he hit the ball to the time he crossed the plate.
“I thought the centerfielder was going to catch the ball. Our coach says that we have to run hard no matter what because the ball can get past them and that’s why I ran hard all the way,” shared Chapa.
On the mound Palmview pitcher Chris Rocha held the Bobcats to only one hit and five walks while striking out 13 in seven innings. When asked what the key to his success against Edinburg was he quickly credited his two best pitches.
“It was my cutter (cut fastball),” explained Rocha. “It’s been on all year, especially tonight. My fastball was on too. I was overpowering the hitters with it. I felt good on the mound.”
While their 3-0 win Monday night was good news for Lobos’ players, coaches and fans, the not-so-good news is that they now get to go up against one of the top ranked teams in the state – the Laredo United Longhorns.
“We play Laredo United next,” said Garcia. “They’re a tough team. They’re ranked third in the state right behind Sharyland. God willing we’ll play tough and we’ll be able to compete with them to see if we can advance to the second round.”
The Lobos and the Longhorns will be playing a best of three series with game one scheduled to be played tonight at 7 p.m. at Uni-Trade Stadium in Laredo. Game two is scheduled to be played tomorrow at 3 p.m. at La Joya Baseball Complex and game three (if necessary) being played 30 minutes after the conclusion of game two also at the La Joya Complex.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.