The Rally Caps were out, the Rally Dips in place, and soon the Special Rally Caps appeared for the late going. All the fire and pizzazz almost pulled off a great comeback in a key game. Almost.
When A.C. Concepcion was nipped at first by a half step in the bottom of the ninth Wednesday at the Stadium, the Roadrunners expired 6-5 to Laredo, sending the first round ULB playoff series to a third and deciding contest. After losing their fourth one-round decision in a fortnight, the ‘Runners now face do-or-die time for 2010 with Eric Montoya on the hill starting at 7:05 Thursday.
With runners at second and third, Concepcion hit a bouncer but could beat the throw, and the last-gasp rally was done. Edinburg had loaded the bases with no outs and then gotten an RBI forceout by first baseman Daryl Jones to close to within one.
After infielder Wilson Batista misread a sign from manager Vince Moore and bunted for an out (he though he saw “squeeze” with a runner at third), it was up to A.C., who has driven in 60 runs this season. But he grounded out, so after an easy win at Laredo for Game One, the men must come up with a good effort Thursday.
Amarillo, two-time defending league champ and the squad that caught the Roadrunners from behind to win first in the season’s last week, is already in the league final. The Dillas put away the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings in two games; whichever team advances out of the Edinburg-Laredo series will begin at home for two before traveling to the Dilla Villa for three more, if necessary. Those home games at the Stadium would come Friday and Saturday.
Laredo got off to a nice start with two runs in the first against ‘Runner ace Wardell Starling, who would not make it to the fifth and eventually be tagged with the loss, his fourth. The Broncos led 2-0 early and after Edinburg tied it in the second, erupted for four in the fourth for a 6-2 lead.
Felix Molina sliced a two-run double down the right-field line to narrow the gap in the sixth but Bronco relievers held the home side scoreless in the final three frames.
Wilmer Pino had two hits and a walk for the Roadrunners, as did Molina. But Edinburg pitchers walked nine batters to hurt the cause.
Ric Serrano, Aaron Guerra and Mark Dibernardo did combine to shut down Laredo’s high-powered attack after Starling exited. The weeknight crowd was tiny, unusual considering the way the team has drawn all summer long, with an average attendance of more than 2,500. Look for a huge and rowdy bunch on hand for Thirsty Thursday as the team tries to stave off elimination.