Rio Sports Live

Los Fresnos drops heartbreaker to Smithson Valley in region final

By MARK MOLINA | Rio Sports Live 

CORPUS CHRISTI — Down two to the Smithson Valley Rangers in the bottom of the sixth Thursday night, the Los Fresnos Falcons went on to load the bases with one out before being interrupted by a lightning delay that would postpone the game until the late morning. 

Los Fresnos would pick up where it left off and tie the game at 2-2 following a sac fly RBI from Mathew Padilla and the aid of a Smithson Valley error. 

The Falcons bid for a state appearance would ultimately fall short, however, as the Rangers’ Tim Aguello brought in Ryan Ruff on an RBI single that proved to be the game winner in the top of the seventh to lift Smithson Valley to a 3-2 Region IV-6A victory Friday morning at Cabaniss Field in Corpus Christi. 

“We came up one run short,” Los Fresnos head coach Renee Morales said. “These kids battled all their lives and all through the game, we had a chance to win. We talked about the situation last night and we came up with a plan and told them that we were gonna score two runs to tie it up. Now we just gotta score the winning run and we had a chance but we just didn’t come through today and that’s baseball.” 

The Rangers will head to the state semifinals to face either Rockwall or Rockwall-Heath. 

The Falcons, meanwhile end the season with a record of 22-7-2 and its first-ever trip to the Region IV final in program history and will lose a core group of several seniors that includes pitcher Victor Loa, Sidney Moore, Jacob Sandoval, Germaine Castillo, Jose Cervantes, Damian Salazar, Oscar Franco. 

“It was a great season with a senior bunch of kids that have been with us for four years,” Morales said. “They’ve done a good job leading this young group and they gave us everything they had on the field and off the field. This team has achieved a lot of things that people don’t know — this is a very special team.” 

The Rangers opened the game plating two runs in the bottom of the first inning on a two-on, two-out RBI single from Ethan Gonzales, aided by a Falcons error on the infield earlier in the inning and a walk on the prior at-bat. 

Los Fresnos starting pitcher Victor Loa and the defense would shake it off after that and keep Smithson Valley off the board the next five innings. 

“One inning can shape the game,” said Loa, who tossed six innings Thursday night and allowed two runs on three hits with eight strikeouts before exhausting his pitch count. “The first inning,

Smithson Valley came out swinging and did whatever they had to do and scored two runs; it goes a long way. I’m proud that we came back in the sixth to tie the game. Just to fight shows what kind of team we are. We fight until the end; it’s what we’ve been doing all year.” 

The Los Fresnos offense had just three hits through the first five innings as Smithson Valley’s Brandon Taylor was solid on the mound, tossing a complete game with six shutout innings, allowing six hits and fanning five. 

The Falcons’ sixth-inning rally would start in the bottom of the sixth with a hit batter to put a runner on, followed by a base hit from Castillo and a Smithson Valley infield error to load the bases. 

On the restart, Padilla stepped to the plate and sent a sac fly to center to bring in Josh Munoz and then an error at third brought in Castillo for the tying run. 

Seconds later the game would be postponed due to lightning and restarted at 11 a.m. Friday morning. 

Taylor would hit another batter but get out of the sixth inning after a Hector Muniz ground out to short and eventually shut down Los Fresnos in the bottom of the seventh to secure the victory.

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