Eight Rio Grande City Rattler baseball players were awarded some level of All-District honors for their performances during the recently completed 2018 season, with two players earning first team honors and another player gaining recognition as the District 31-5A Newcomer of the Year.
The 2018 Rattler baseball team reached the second round of the state playoffs for the second straight season. They finished third in the District 31-5A standings with a 10-6 record and defeated Brownsville Lopez 2-1 in the first round best-of-three series. They came up short against Corpus Christi Carroll 2-0 in the second round best-of-three series. In the 2017 season, the Rattlers stormed through district play with a 12-4 record and defeated Brownsville Veterans 2-0 in the opening round playoff series before falling 2-1 to Corpus Christi King in the second round.
In reflecting on the 2018 season, Rattler Head Coach Roque Cortinas commented, “I’m very proud of the whole team…I was definitely pleased with how the season unfolded. We lost six starters from a predominantly senior team (in 2017). A lot of young kids needed to step up, and they did step up in an even greater way than could have been expected.”
Cortinas emphasized, “We had a good combination of veterans and youngsters. We had a complete team effort…Our players, including the freshmen, showed a lot of maturity throughout the year, especially in the latter stages of the season…I was pleased with the way we bounced back from the opening game playoff loss to Brownsville Lopez.”
“We had three freshman starters on the field and one freshman pitcher who saw significant playing time,” noted the coach. “Still another freshman pitcher pitched well in the opening game of the Carroll series.”
Junior pitcher Osvaldo “Baldo” Perez and senior outfielder Jason Perez were awarded first team All-District honors, and freshman catcher Emmanuel Garza was recognized as the District 31-5A Newcomer of the Year. In a local award, Emmanuel Garza was recognized as the Team Most Valuable Player.
In district and playoff games, Emmanuel Garza achieved a .441 batting average with six doubles and 13 RBIs. From the catching position, Garza also threw out 11 of 20 base runners attempting to steal. Osvaldo “Baldo” Perez compiled an 8-4 record and a 3.08 earned run average with 56 strikeouts in 59 innings, and also hit two homers, one triple and four doubles and drove in 10 runs while playing first base. For the entire season, he belted three home runs. Jason Perez registered a .368 batting average with a triple, four doubles and eight RBIs.
Winning second team All-District honors were freshman second baseman Marc Perez, freshman third baseman Eduardo Garza and senior outfielder Jeremy Gorena. Freshman pitcher Mike Ramos, senior first baseman Saul Garcia and senior shortstop Nicolas Cantu all received Honorable Mention All-District recognition.
Marc Perez blasted three home runs for the entire season. In district and playoff games, he achieved a .333 batting average and a .617 slugging percentage and collected 10 RBIs as he pounded one homer, two triples and 10 doubles. In the three-game Brownsville Lopez playoff series, Perez hammered Lobo pitching at a 6 for 9 pace with one homer, two triples, two doubles and seven RBIs.
Eduardo Garza compiled a .382 batting average and pounded one homer, one triple and 10 RBIs. He belted a homer in the second game of the Carroll playoff series in Corpus Christi. Jeremy Gorena achieved a .357 batting average with five doubles, three triples and seven RBIs. He belted two triples in a furious seventh inning rally against Laredo Martin, and hammered a run-scoring double in the opening game of the Carroll playoff series.
Pitcher Mike Ramos achieved a 5-3 record and 2.49 ERA while striking out 46 batters in 50 innings. Saul Garcia bolstered the Rattler hitting attack with a .311 average, three doubles and three RBIs. Nicolas Cantu pounded opposition pitching at a .321 clip with four doubles and eight RBIs.
Rattler team awards as the local level were as follows: Most Improved Player- Nicolas Cantu; Newcomers of the Year- Marc Perez and Mike Ramos; Defensive Player of the Year- Jeremy Gorena; Offensive Player of the Year- Jason Perez; Pitcher of the Year- Osvaldo “Baldo” Perez; Team Most Valuable Player- Emmanuel Garza.
Jason Perez and Jeremy Gorena were awarded unique honors by being selected to the 2018 Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) and Texas Army National Guard Baseball All-State Academic Team. Jason Perez was selected to the Elite team and Jeremy Gorena was awarded Honorable Mention status. The highest team a player can reach is the Elite team, which means a player must have near perfect scores in all categories. The Elite category is followed by first team, second team and Honorable Mention.
Jason Perez, Jeremy Gorena and Virgilio (Vilo) Gomez were all honored by being selected to the District 31-5A Academic All-District team.
Coach Cortinas stressed, “The talent level in the Rio Grande City baseball program is definitely improving. That is basically true of the entire Valley.”
“We’re building a strong baseball tradition that should continue and even expand for the foreseeable future,” contended the coach. “We definitely exceeded the expectations of the preseason forecasters…The bar for the Rattler baseball program has been set high as a result of the last two years.”
Concerning the future outlook, the Rattler skipper predicted, “The outlook for the future looks very good…The outlook for next year looks really good. We could potentially have a really strong team next year.”
Cortinas pointed out, “We lose a couple of multi-year starters, Jason Perez and Jeremy Gorena, in the outfield, and also lose Saul Garcia, our starting first basemen and another multi-year starter. We should have a good group of youngsters coming in next year, some freshmen and some from the junior varsity. Some of these players should compete for positions next year.”
The Rattler baseball program definitely took a step forward in 2018, continuing at a winning pace after a veteran team produced an exceptional 2017 season. The Rattlers performed at a much higher level than was predicted by preseason forecasters. A key reason for the team’s success was that several freshmen were standout players, not merely contributors. The outstanding performances of the younger players and the winning tradition that continues to build should mean tremendous success on the baseball field for the Rattlers for the foreseeable future.