Facing the number one ranked team in the city, the baseball team knew that they were in for a tough series in the first round of the playoffs. Entering as the four seed from NEISD led to them playing the 25-6A district champs, the Clemens Buffaloes. In a compelling three game series, the team beat the Buffs two games to one behind terrific pitching and timely hitting.
In game one, Clemens asserted their dominance by pitching their ace, Cody Sasser, who was also one of their most lethal hitters. The team pitched junior Devin Molina, who had just beaten Johnson two weeks ago, a very solid number two pitcher. However, Clemens had their way at the plate for most of the night putting up five runs and making contact most times up. The 5-0 loss, however, did not appear to faze the team after the game or into the following day.
The confidence stemmed from knowing that Texas Tech commit, and MLB prospect, Josh Jung was starting on the mound for game two. He pitched a complete game shutout, with four strikeouts, zero walks, and only two hits against perhaps the best team in the city. What he and the team did at the plate was equally as special. Josh had two separate at bats with bases loaded, the first time he nailed one that hit the fence, bringing in all three runs and putting him on second base. The second time he hit a normal RBI single. Bobby Lepovitz and Tyler Vitt both had an RBI as well, leading to the final score of 6-0. Forcing a decisive game three just 30 minutes later.
With the season on the line, Coach Tom Alfieri turned to sophomore Austin Vaughan to pitch the final game against the daunting Clemens lineup. Clemens turned to their third and fourth pitchers as well. The stage was set for the power in both lineups to show, but they never did. Both of the team’s pitchers knew to throw strikes and let the guys behind them make the plays. It also helped that there was a significant breeze coming in from the outfield keeping numerous balls in fielding range. After a failed attempted squeeze bunt to bring in Zach Perez from third base in the fifth inning, the sixth inning flew by which put us into the seventh inning knotted at zero. Then the team turned a crucial 5-4-3 double play to end the top of the seventh where the Buffs had gained momentum. In the bottom of the seventh, Tyler Vitt rocketed a ball to far left field and got to second base with one out. Then pinch hitter Travis Saenz was intentionally walked, followed by the decision to pinch hit for the DH, putting senior Kevin Valderama at the plate. Kevin took two pitches and remembered the phrase that’s always thrown around by the coaches. Win the one-one pitch. And Kevin won it, punching a ball to right-center field and bringing in Tyler to win the game, and the series, in walk off fashion.
After nearly five hours of baseball on Saturday afternoon, the Brahmas advanced to the second round. In the previous two seasons, that had meant a duel with NISD champs O’Connor, which had not ended well for the team. Instead they face Corpus Christi Carroll, who went 8-2 in district and defeated Clark in a one game playoff 3-0.
For the third consecutive year the baseball team has made the second round, but this is arguably their best chance to make it to the third round in that span. If they can do so, it will be the first time since 2001 that Mac baseball has reached the Regional Quarterfinals. Game one will be Friday night at 6:00 p.m., and games two and three are on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and right after if necessary. This relatively young team is now confident and more mature, which sets up for an intriguing second round against CC Carroll.