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Lobos on Top

Palmview inches closer toward district crown

Progress Times photo by Joe Vela.

In a highly contested battle between undefeated teams, the La Joya Palmview Lobos baseball team defeated the Mission Veterans Patriots 3-0 in game one of their two-game series tonight at Veterans Memorial High School. The victory improves the Lobos’ record to 5-0(19-2-1), placing them in control of District 30-5A, ahead of the now second-place Patriots, who dropped to 4-1(12-5-2) with th loss. One season after being swept in their season series against the Patriots, the Lobos will now look to return the favor.

The game on Tuesday night showcased a thrilling pitching duel between two of the best pitchers in District 30-5A. The Lobos’ victory was spearheaded by their standout junior, Mateo Garcia, arguably the best pitcher in the RGV. Garcia’s exceptional performance included a complete-game shutout on just 86 pitches, 67 of which were strikes. He concluded the game with nine strikeouts, allowing only five hits.

“It feels good to come out with a win…We plan to keep it rolling into the next game and, hopefully, the district championship,” Garcia said when asked about the win.

Returning All-District performer Jazhiel Trevino took the mound for the Patriots and pitched six scoreless innings with six strikeouts. With the aid of an impressive defensive performance from his infield, especially third and first basemen Robert Ramos and Jeremiah Vela, Trevino only allowed six hits. But three of those hits occurred during the game’s pivotal 5th inning.

“They’re a great ball club. We knew that coming in. We’ve been keeping an eye on them…that pitcher did one hell of a job keeping us at bay,” Palmview head coach Manuel “Ricky” Garcia said

After four intense scoreless innings, the game took a dramatic turn in the top of the fifth inning. The Patriots were four outs away from exiting the inning when the Lobos lineup exploded and scored three runs to break the stalemate. That rally was led by catcher Jaxzel Cantu, who doubled to start the inning, and Garcia, whose shot to right field drove in two runs to put the Lobos in front. A Josiah Gonzalez single in the gap towards center field scored designated runner Anthony Hernandez, who replaced Garcia on the base path and put the Lobos ahead. The 3-0 lead proved too much for the Patriots to overcome.

“It feels good [winning], but we’re not done yet. We have unfinished business…,” Cantu said.

Despite the Patriots’ best efforts to mount a comeback, it was not to be. They left three runners on base in the final two innings. As for the Lobos, their laser-focus on finishing the game following their outburst in the fifth, allowed them to clean up anything and everything hit their way. They were not about to let the game slip away.

“On the bus ride, everyone was focusing on the game and coming out here with a winning mentality. We just pulled through. Now, we gotta go into tomorrow and keep putting in the work. No expectations, just keep attacking hard,” third baseman Adrian Garza said after the game.

Trevino bounced back in the 6th and 7th innings and held the Lobos offense scoreless, but without run support, the comeback attempt was halted before it ever began.

“We had runners in scoring position, but we didn’t bring them in when we needed to. At the end of the day, that’s the way the game goes. We played well defensively… we were right in the game up until they scored those three runs at the top of the 5th inning,” Patriots head coach Ben Gonzales said after Tuesday night’s loss.

The loss is the Patriots’ first defeat in five games. Until last night, the Patriots had won six of their previous seven and outscored their opponents 49-17 in those contests. The loss stings, but the Patriots are optimistic they’ll bounce back in game two.

“I’m confident that we’re right where we need to be. Now, we still gotta go out play, and we still gotta perform. I’m not going to take anything away from them. They’re not a bad ball club. They put the ball in play, but at the end of the day, we gotta do our job too,” Gonzales said, reflecting on Tuesday’s loss and the district slate ahead.

The District 30-5A race is headed toward a furious finish. The Patriots are on the heels of the two-time defending champion Lobos with less than 10 games remaining in the district schedule. That pressure would make a lesser team fold, but the Lobos are built differently. Although the win was sweet, and being in first place is sweeter, the Lobos know they have more to play for.

“We’re not going to take nobody lightly. Everybody that we face is a playoff contender. So we’re gonna keep on working until the end of the season,” Salinas said when asked about the team expectations going forward.

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