Three Juarez-Lincoln Huskies came up to bat in the top of the first inning against Palmview Lobos pitcher Leonel Perez and all three went down swinging. That was a preview of things to come as Perez, a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher in his sophomore year, struck out a total of 12 Huskies Tuesday night while throwing his first no-hitter as a varsity pitcher.
While Perez did walk four and had one hit batsman, he held the Huskies hitless and held scoreless throughout the game as the Lobos improved their District 30-6A record to 10-0 (15-2-1 overall), defeating Juarez-Lincoln 9-0. With the loss, the Huskies dropped to 0-10 in district (2-17 overall).
The fact that Palmview had already clinched the district title before Tuesday night’s game did not seem to affect their play on the field as they took advantage of Huskies errors to turn a 1-0 lead in the middle of the fifth to a 9-0 victory by tacking on four runs in the bottom of the fifth and another four in the sixth.
As Palmview High head baseball coach Manuel “Ricky” Garcia shared after the game, the Lobos’ recipe for success all season long has been good fundamental play on the field, timely hitting and solid pitching.
“That’s what we stress with our kids,” Garcia said. “We tell them that when you play sound fundamental baseball good things are going to happen. It’s just a matter of being patient throughout the game, but things will eventually happen in our favor.”
As for the performance of his young pitcher Garcia said, “Leo is just a sophomore but he is one of our top pitchers. He started on the junior varsity last year but I moved him up to varsity based on his performance. He threw a no-hitter tonight which is the second no-hitter we’ve had thrown by a sophomore.”
Having already qualified for the playoffs for the fourth year in a row and having clinched back-to-back district titles for the first time in school history, the Lobos are looking to beat last year’s post-season success.
“We made it into the third round of the playoffs last year,” explained Garcia. “It’s always a coach’s goal to exceed the previous year’s success, but when you go into the playoffs it’s a brand new season against top-notch teams so a lot of things can happen.”
“We’re taking it one game at a time right now,” added Garcia. “We’re focusing on finishing our district season strong. We still have McAllen Memorial and McAllen High to play and if we start out flat against either of them like we started out flat tonight, we’ll be putting our undefeated record in jeopardy.”
After the game and after he was done running laps and having ice bags stretch-wrapped to his pitching shoulder and elbow, Perez spoke about the no-hitter.
“This was my first on the varsity level, but I have had two or three no-hitters during summer ball,” shared Perez. “I threw a lot of fast balls tonight, but my best pitch was my curve ball. It was my strike-out pitch.”
As for how it feels to have clinched back-to-back district titles Perez said, “It feels pretty good. I have a feeling that we’re going to go to the third round of the playoffs or further this year. So far this season we’ve been hitting the ball well and our pitching has been on, so if we can continue that we should be able to go further.”
The Lobos will be traveling to McAllen Memorial to play the 5-5 Mustangs tonight at 7 and will be closing out their regular season at home against the 6-5 McAllen High Bulldogs Tuesday evening also at 7 p.m.