Update for May 21, 2015
Owls drop two straight in area playoff series
By Jeff Berger
Laredo -- The season came to an end Saturday, May 16, for the Hondo Owl baseball team, with a two-game 4A area playoff sweep at the hands of the Robstown Cotton Pickers.
The 31-AAAA champs won the opener, 5-4, in a game which actually ended after midnight on Friday at the United ISD’s Student Activity Center. Then after an early morning wake-up call, Robstown jumped ahead early and held on for a 9-4 win on Saturday morning.
In both games, one big inning for Robstown carried them to the win, eliminating Hondo for the second straight year.
The Owls end the season with a record of 16-11-1, and brought home a bi-district championship for the first time in nine years.
Over the same weekend, all four teams in District 29-AAAA, which all won their bi-district round, lost in the area round. Boerne fell in a single game to Hidalgo, while Fredericksburg and Bandera were swept in two games by Sinton and Rockport-Fulton, respectively.
Robstown (22-4) will now face its district rival Sinton in the regional quarterfinals. Their best-of-three series will be played at Tuloso-Midway.
Because of the abundant rain in San Antonio last week, the Hondo-Robstown series was moved early in the week from its originally scheduled venue of South San HS to Laredo.
That proved to be a good move from a weather standpoint, but later, another series was also booked for the site as well. The 6A area playoff between Edinburg and Eagle Pass was added in, with a scheduled 4:30 game on Friday, ahead of Hondo’s 7:30 scheduled start.
When the umpiring crew for the 6A game was late to arrive, that pushed back the start of both contests. Then, in both the top of the fifth and sixth innings, Edinburg had a runner in scoring position, giving them a chance to go up by ten runs each time–thus ending the game on the run-rule–but failed to get the run across. In the top of the seventh, Edinburg batted around, scoring four times, extending its lead to what would eventually be a 14-1 win. The game didn’t end until 9 p.m., pushing the start of the Owls’ game back to 9:30.
Robstown took the first lead in the bottom of the second, scoring two runs through the help of three Hondo errors.
The Owls got on the board in the top of the third. Willie Keilman reached base on an error, then stole second. Brian Dominguez hit a sharp single to right, and the outfielder overran the ball allowing Keilman to score.
In the third, Hunter Eitze drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on Rees Saathoff’s bunt. Ryan Frosch singled off the third base bag to put runners at the corners, and Eitze scored on Marcus Garcia’s liner to right, tying the game at 2-2. Again, with runners at first and third, the Owls tried a double steal, but even though courtesy runner Matt DeLeon appeared to slide around the tag, he was called out and the inning ended.
Hondo pitcher Zach DeLeon had retired eight straight batters in the middle innings and had allowed only one hit to that point, but the Cotton Pickers came to life in the bottom of the fifth. Three straight singles to open the inning produced two runs, and a sacrifice fly two batters later made it 5-2.
Hondo got two runners on base in the seventh with a pair of one-out walks. Three passed balls in the inning brought both Dominguez and Isaiah Quintanilla around to score, but the Owls were unable to get any other runners on base, ending the game at 5-4.
Dominguez had two of the Owls’ six hits.
In the Saturday morning game, which began at 10:30, Robstown took control with six runs in the top of the fourth inning to take an 8-0 lead.
In the top of the first, Robstown drew two walks, followed by a one-out RBI single.
The Cotton Pickers strung together five of their ten total hits in the fourth, as they built their eight-run lead.
Hondo clawed its way back into the game with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Eitze walked, followed by a Dalton Graff single. Eitze scored on Wesley Rogge’s infield single, and Graff came home on Willie Keilman’s fielder’s choice grounder.
The Owls added two more runs in the fifth. Saathoff drew a one-out walk and took third on Eitze’s double to left. Graff singled to center, driving in a run, and Eitze came home on Garcia’s grounder to short.
Robstown added an insurance run in the sixth, with a leadoff single, two steals and a groundout.
Meanwhile, the Owls didn’t get any runners on base in the final two innings, as Robstown pitcher Elias Rodriguez retired the final eight batters he faced.
Dominguez and Graff both had two hits for the Owls.
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