Bart Bickerton is no fan of the one-game playoff in post-season play. His reasoning is well thought out. After all, the major leagues all play in a series because that is the way to know who is the better team as it matches up the two teams' top pitchers and not top pitcher.
“Baseball should never come down to one game,” Bickerton explains. “You can have a pitcher that gets hot and the worse team beats the better team.”
Tonight, unfortunately, the Rattlers find themselves in such a predicament to begin bi-district. Adding to the disappointment is they are facing a very good Laredo United team that is the fourth place team in District 31-5A only because of seven victories forfeited earlier in the year.
“[Tonight's game could] be the two best teams in the state playing each other in the first round,” Bickerton says.
Despite the one-and-done that is tonight's game, Sharyland obviously has the tools to take care of the Longhorns. The Rattlers are 28-1, have four players batting over .500 and have solid pitchers able to pitch strikes.
The battle between Shary and United will be a rematch of the two teams' showdown in 2008 in the regional quarterfinals. Ironically, that match-up was in the one game format as well and the Rattlers fell 5-4.
We will see tonight if Shary has what it takes to get that one win. The winner will take on the victor of Edinburg and Brownsville Hanna.
Fellow district members Mission and La Joya also have bi-district games this weekend. Unlike the Rattlers, the Coyotes and the Eagles will be playing at least two games. As the fourth seed, the Eagles (15-11, 7-7) are slated to face the District 29 champ, Laredo Alexander (20-7, 15-3). Mission is in its first post season appearance in 5A after they were district champion in 4A last year.
“It's a lot tougher in 5A,” says Mission Head Coach Rick Lozano. As for his team's chances in bi-district, the coach says, “Anything can happen. If we play to our potential, we can win.”
For the La Joya Coyotes, they will face Eagle Pass Winn (18-8, 14-6), the runners up in District 29. The Coyotes are hoping to repeat their playoff success from last year. Just like this year, the Coyotes entered last year's tournament as the underdog third seed. Despite the label, La Joya went on to beat, in order, United, Porter and, in a game that will forever be remembered, Sharyland. It has been five years since a Ruben Farias' team didn't make the playoffs. Each year the team has advanced past the first round.
“The playoffs are a whole different season,” says Farias. “We have to execute. If we don't we will get eliminated. We have a lot of guys from last year that have the experience and know what it takes.”
While Sharyland is one of the top ranked teams in 5A, Veterans Memorial has to take on one of the top teams in 4A, the Calallen Wildcats. It will be the second year in a row the two teams have faced one another. In last year's game, the Wildcats took down the Patriots, 9-2. This year will prove to be another challenge as the two teams face off in a three-game series.
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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.