Lobos sweep Area, keep on rolling
In a game that started last Friday at 7 p.m. and ended Saturday at 10:15 p.m., the Palmview Lobos defeated the Pharr San-Juan Alamo Bears 5-4 to take the best-of-three Area Round baseball playoff series two games to none. Coach Manuel “Ricky” Garcia’s Lobos have now advanced to the Regional Quarterfinal round of the state playoffs where they will be going up against Laredo Alexander in a one game, winner-take-all playoff tonight at 8 p.m. at Coyote Field in Alice.
The game, which began as scheduled Friday evening, was suspended due to lightning with two outs in the top of the first inning and the Bears having a 1-0 lead. Play was resumed Saturday at 4 p.m. with game 3, if necessary, to be played 30 minutes after the completion of game 2. As unusual as it was to have a game suspended one day and resumed the next, it was just the beginning for what turned out to be a game to remember.
Palmview’s Ezekiel “Mookie” Huaracha started game 2 after Chris Rocha completely dominated the Bears in the series opener 2-0. In that game, Rocha struck out 12 of the 22 batters he faced while walking one and allowing only one hit. As a result, he faced only one batter more than the minimum. While Huaracha may not have pitched as dominantly as Rocha did in game 1, he kept the Lobos in the game and left in the top of the 10th with the score tied at 4-4.
Not wanting to let an opportunity to win the series in two games pass, Garcia brought Rocha into the game with only one day’s rest. That decision proved to be a good one as Rocha shutout the Bears for seven innings as Palmview defeated PSJA 5-4 in 16 innings.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride for the Palmview Lobos’ baseball program all year long,” said Garcia. “We’re not into any surprises. We just want to keep on playing and we need to keep on pushing like we did here tonight in the end.”
Having never before gotten past the first round of the playoffs, the Lobos are now just one win away from the fourth round. A win over Alexander tonight will propel Garcia’s squad into next weekend’s Regional Semifinal round – also known as the Elite 8.
As for what the secret to their success has been this year Garcia said, “The kids that we have believe in each other and they believe in what we’re doing. The two main reasons behind our success are our great leaders, numbers 14 and 7 (Huaracha and Rocha). It’s a great feeling.”
Garcia is planning to start Rocha tonight against Alexander. Should the Lobos (25-5) win, they will be playing the winner of the San Antonio Reagan (30-4) vs Corpus Christi King (19-8) best-of-three series.