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Big 7 baseball players receive district and state honors

This article originally appeared in the Friday June 28, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.

With the unprecedented success Valley baseball teams, and in particular District 31-5A teams, experienced this year, the number of post-season honors individual Big 7 players and coaches are receiving are unprecedented as well.

With Valley teams having a history of falling short once they go up against teams from the Corpus Christi area and beyond, local athletes receiving All-State honors have been few and far between – historically speaking.

JacobRosalesPTHowever, this year it’s almost as if the rest of the state suddenly realized that the Rio Grande Valley has high school baseball teams. And to that I say, “It’s about time!”

With eight Big 7 baseball players receiving All State recognition, and 35 receiving first or second team All-District honors, it’s safe to say that it’s not only the 2019 baseball season that will long be remembered. The postseason honors bestowed upon the players who took their respective teams to new heights by performing, and in many cases overachieving, on the baseball diamonds will be remembered as well. Here we will take a look at those Big 7 athletes, and one of their coaches, who were deemed worthy of being recognized for their achievements, beginning with the All-District honorees.

In District 30-6A, Mission High’s Jose Soto was named Newcomer of the Year. Other Eagles receiving All District honors were Andy Martinez (first team pitcher and outfielder), Steve Villarreal (first team shortstop) and Yayo Cardoza (second team catcher).

La Joya Coyotes receiving All District honors were J.C. Gutierrez (first team pitcher), Anthony Pena (first team shortstop), Elias Morales (first team outfielder) and Jake Moreno (second team outfielder).

The only other 30-6A baseball player to receive All-District honors was Juarez-Lincoln’s Juan Castaneda who was named to the second team as a pitcher.

In District 31-5A, Sharyland Pioneer’s Jacob Rosales was named MVP, Sharyland High’s Martin Vazquez was named Offensive Player of the Year, Palmview’s Jonathan Martinez was named Pitcher of the Year and Sharyland Rattlers’ head coach Barton Bickerton was named Coach of the Year.

First team All-District honors went to Pioneer’s Evan Maldonado (pitcher and outfielder), Johnny Lugo (outfielder) and Pedro Tovias (utility), Sharyland High’s Ivan Alvarez (pitcher), Abraham Alvarez (catcher), Randy Garcia (second baseman), Juan Lopez (third baseman) and Pepe Contreras (outfielder) and Mission Veterans’ Alexis Trevino (first baseman).

Second team honors went to Pioneer’s Trey Gonzalez (first baseman) and Juan Rivera (second baseman), Sharyland High’s Andy Lozano (pitcher, shortstop and third baseman) and Chase Gerlach (outfielder), Mission Veterans’ Alex Guajardo (pitcher), Josue Segovia (outfielder), Ricardo Reyna (outfielder) and Joseph Salazar (designated hitter).

Now let’s take a look at the Big 7 athletes named to the All-State teams. Pioneer senior shortstop/pitcher Jacob Rosales, who batted .400, stole 43 bases on 43 attempts and compiled a 9-4 record on the mound with an impressive ERA of 1.87 ERA with 105 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings, was one of only two Valley baseball players named to the 5A-6A South All-State Elite team. As such, he earned the right to participate in the 46th annual THSBCA All-Star game which was played at Dell Diamond in Round Rock a week ago Saturday.

Three of Rosales’ teammates also received 5A All-State honors. Junior shortstop Evan Maldonado and senior pitcher Johnny Lugo were selected second team All-State while freshman second baseman Juan Rivera was named to the third team. Maldonado hit .402 with 45 RBI and 36 runs scored. Lugo went 10-0 on the mound with an ERA of 1.54. Rivera batted .457, scored 23 runs, drove in 21 runs and stole 13 stolen bases.

Three Sharyland High players earned All-State honors as well. Junior first baseman Martin Vazquez, who batted .418 had 39 RBIs and hit seven home runs, was named to the first team. Senior pitcher Ivan Alvarez, who went 10-0 with an ERA of 1.38, was named to the second team and junior catcher Abraham Alvarez, who batted .383 and drove in 30 runs, was named to the third team.

In only his junior year, Palmview’s Jonathan Martinez was named to the 5A All-State first team as a pitcher. Martinez went 9-1 in 14 starts with a 0.62 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings.

The only other Big 7 baseball player to be named to the All-State team was Mission High senior second baseman Andy Martinez who was placed on the second team.

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