Special to the NEWS
Winners of six straight, the ’Hounds swept two district games last week, beating PSJA Memorial 2-1 and McAllen Rowe 6-3 to remain perfect in District 31-5A play.
At 3-0 in district, the ’Hounds (8-3 overall) take on fellow unbeaten PSJA North tonight at home in a battle for first place in the district.
“The kids are really starting to believe in themselves and in what we’re trying to preach,” San Benito coach Ram Partida said. “Things are falling into place. We’re hitting the ball and finding ways to capitalize on (opponents’) errors.”
Against the Wolverines, the Greyhounds earned a tough one-run win by getting back to basics and taking advantage of Memorial’s miscues as Partida alluded to.
The game was tied at 1 until the bottom of the sixth inning when speedy freshman J.R. Gaitan laid down a leadoff bunt single and advanced to second on a failed hit-and-run. He then moved over to third on a groundout to set up the go-ahead run.
Then Ruben Reyes hit a hot shot to third base. The Wolverine infielder checked Gaitan and then fired over a wayward throw to first base, enabling Gaitan to scurry home for what wound up as the winning run.
“It was a close game all the way,” Partida said.
Tommy Padilla pitched six innings to earn the win and Roy Aguilar came on to pitch the seventh and got the save.
Against Rowe, it was Aguilar’s turn to take on a huge workload. Though he allowed 10 hits, Aguilar got out of several jams and got enough to earn a complete-game win on the road.
For San Benito, Gaitan was 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs while Chris Padilla went 1-for-1, drawing two walks, driving in one and scoring three times. Josh Gonzales was key as well, going 2-for-3 at the plate and scoring twice against the Warriors.
“We just executed when we had to,” Partida said. “We made some errors, but we didn’t let them hurt us. Our guys are learning that it’s OK to make mistakes sometimes, but we just gotta let it go and make the next play.”
Now red-hot and among the Valley’s Top 10 ballclubs, San Benito must now get through arguably its toughest test to date. The Raiders, an upstart team who defeated district bully PSJA last week, come to town riding a wave of momentum and confidence.
“They’re a great, well-coached team and (Friday) night was a good example of that,” Partida said of North. “That win (over the Bears) showed the type of team they have.
But our guys are excited and the community’s excited, too. I don’t know the last time this program’s been in this position. (Against PSJA North) It’s gonna be two good teams getting after it and it’s gonna be fun.”