The La Joya Palmview Lobos avenged a lopsided loss to the Rio Grande City Rattlers two days earlier as they used an outstanding pitching performance and aggressive hitting to defeat the Rattlers 4-2 in a District 31-5A contest in Rio Grande City on Thursday night, April 18.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Rattlers and dropped their district record to 9-3. They will wrap up District 31-5A regular season play with games against Sharyland Pioneer on Tuesday, April 23 and Friday, April 26.
On Tuesday night, April 16 in La Joya, the Rattlers trounced the Lobos 14-2 in a game that ended after five innings under the 10-Run Rule. Osbaldo Perez pitched a complete game and allowed only three hits and one walk while achieving six strikeouts. Eduardo Garza was 4 for 4 and drove in four runs with a home run, triple and two singles. Emanuel Saenz was 2 for 2 with a homer and three RBIs.
In Thursday night’s contest, the Rattlers trailed the entire game as the Lobos scored three runs in the top of the first. The Rattlers responded with two runs in the bottom of the third and had the potential tying run at second base with two outs. The Lobos scored another run in the fourth, and Palmview pitcher Jonathan Martinez retired 13 of the last 14 Rattler hitters.
Emmanuel Garza and Osbaldo Perez contributed RBI singles for the Rattlers, who were limited to only five hits. Jose “Memo” Chapa chipped in with a second inning double. The Rattlers stranded four runners in the first three innings, with three left in scoring position.
Sophomore righthander Mike Ramos pitched a complete game for the Rattlers and pitched his way out of several difficult situations to keep Rio within striking range.
In the top of the first inning, the leadoff Lobo hitter drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch and the second hitter hit a high chopper over the third baseman’s head for a single. Jonathan Martinez then flied out to left field, but the next hitter was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Manny Flores then slammed a line drive single to left center to score two runs and put runners on first and second with one out. The next batter hit a grounder to the second baseman, who flipped the ball to the shortstop for a force play at second base and the second out.
The next Lobo hitter lined a single to left to drive home another run and build Palmview’s lead to 3-0. The next hitter flied out to right to end the inning.
In the bottom of the first, leadoff Rattler hitter Marc Perez drew a walk and stole second base with nobody out. Eduardo Garza struck out, but Emmanuel Garza hit a drive to deep right center that was caught by the Lobo outfielder, enabling Perez to advance to third. Osbaldo Perez bounced out to the pitcher on the first pitch to end the inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the second, Jose “Memo” Chapa hit a line drive to deep left center that bounced against the wall for a standup double. The Rattler threat ended when Lobo pitcher Jonathan Martinez struck out Noe Aguirre on a 2-2 pitch.
In the top of the third, the Lobos slammed consecutive singles with two outs, but the next hitter hit a grounder to the shortstop, who flipped to the second baseman for the force play to end the inning.
With one out in the bottom of the third, Marc Perez hit a grounder to shortstop, but the throw sailed past the first baseman and Perez scampered into second base. Eduardo Garza flied out to right for the second out, but Emmanuel Garza slammed a sharp liner to center for a run-scoring single to move the Rattlers to within 3-1 and Garza advanced to second on the throw to home plate.
Baldo Perez then hit a sharp grounder to the left side that bounced off the shortstop’s glove into short left field as the infielder made a desperate lunge. Emmanuel Garza darted home on Perez’s RBI single to reduce the deficit to 3-2. Emanuel Saenz then walked on a 3-2 pitch to put runners on first and second with two outs. The Rattlers couldn’t do any further damage, however, as Martinez struck out Eden Barrera on an 0-2 pitch to end the inning.
In the top of the fourth, the second Lobo hitter drew a walk and the next batter reached on an infield error to put runners on first and second with one out. The next hitter hammered a sharp liner over the shortstop’s head into left center to drive home a run and increase Palmview’s lead to 4-2. The next hitter hit a line drive down the left field line and the runner on second tried to score, but the Rattler left fielder made a strong throw to the pitcher, who flipped the ball to the catcher to tag the runner out at home. The next hitter lined out to right to end the inning and limit the Lobos to only one run.
The game began to settle down as Jonathan Martinez retired the Rattlers in order in the bottom of the fourth and Ramos set down the Lobos 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the fifth, Martinez quickly retired the three Rattler hitters on groundouts.
In the top of the sixth, the second Palmview hitter slammed a single. With two outs and a runner on first, the Lobo hitter belted a drive to deep left center, but the Rattler centerfielder made an outstanding running catch just short of the wall to prevent an extra-base hit and probably save a run.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Eden Barrera slammed a sharp single to center to give the Rattlers their first base runner since the third inning. The potential rally fizzled, however, as Jose “Memo” Chapa struck out on a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.
The Lobos slammed a single and drew a walk with two outs in the top of the seventh to put runners on first and second. The next batter grounded into a force play to end the inning, leaving the Rattlers still facing a 4-2 deficit.
The Rattlers could do nothing in the bottom of the seventh as Martinez struck out all three Rio hitters swinging to end the game. Martinez wound up with 12 strikeouts and retired 13 of the last 14 hitters he faced.
Emmanuel Garza and Baldo Perez pounded RBI singles for the Rattlers, and Jose “Memo” Chapa slammed a double for Rio’s only extra base hit. Rattler pitcher Mike Ramos pitched the distance and did well in pitching out of many threatening situations as he left nine Palmview base runners stranded.
The Rattlers, now 9-3 in District 31-5A play, will finish the regular season with district games against the Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks at home on Tuesday night, April 23 and on the road on Friday night, April 26. The Rattlers clinched a playoff berth on Friday, April 12 with their win against PSJA Southwest on the road.