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Patriots advance to Sweet 16

The Veterans Memorial Patriots baseball team has been enjoying the sweet taste of success all season long. First they opened their season with eight straight wins. Then they won 10 of their 12 District 31-5A games to claim a share of the district title. Then they swept the Mercedes Tigers to earn their first bi-district championship and then took two out of three from Gregory Portland to claim their first ever area championship.

Despite having already experienced more success than any other Veterans Memorial baseball team, the 2015 Patriots were not satisfied. They wanted more, so they would have to get past the Roma Gladiators in the Regional Quarterfinal round.

20150521 Baseball VMHS vs Roma lg 36Having already defeated the Gladiators twice in district play this season the odds of the Patriots adding one more championship trophy to their trophy case looked good. However, this was the playoffs and as Veterans Memorial head coach Casey Smith knows all too well, what happens in district play stays in district play and the Patriots’ 2-0 loss to Roma in the opening game of the best-of-three series was proof of that.

Having lost their series opener against Gregory Portland the week before the Patriots found themselves having to win the remaining two games of the series to advance once again. That is what they did against Gregory Portland and that is what they went on to do against Roma as they took game 2 by a score of 14-3 and game 3, 15-5.

When asked what the difference was between game 1 and games 2 and 3 Smith said, “Nothing. I’ve said it all along. We played very well in that first game they just happened to play a little bit better. They’re a good team and they play tough. I thought that we played consistently the whole time but nothing fell in Game No. 1.”

Senior David de los Santos, who plays third base and catcher for the Patriots, has a .345 batting average with 29 hits and 30 RBIs over 33 games. He attributes his team’s ability to come back from 1-0 deficits in back-to-back series to the Patriots’ strengths in the three main facets of the game.

“It really helps to know that we can come back from an opening game loss to win a series,” de los Santos said. “As long as we keep that mentality we should be fine. With our pitching, our good defense and good offense we’ll be able to stay in the game no matter what.”

Sophomore Christian Ramos pitched and won the third and deciding game against Roma, and he did the same against Gregory Portland. He was also the winning pitcher in the series clinching game against Mercedes. In eight starts this season he is 8-0 with a 1.25 ERA (earned run average).

“I try not to think about it,” said Ramos about the fact that his last two starts were in do-or-die situations for the Patriots. “I just try to pitch my best and do the best I can out there.”

Next up for Veterans Memorial are the 21-10 Georgetown Eagles in the Regional Semifinals. As of press deadline Thursday, game 1 of the best-of-three series was played at Calallen High School in Corpus Christi last night. Game 2 will be played tonight at 7 also at Calallen and game 3, if necessary, is to be played at 11 a.m. Saturday (tomorrow) at Dickson Stadium at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.

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