The United League Baseball will begin its second half of the 2009 season on Thursday, with the San Angelo Colts holding onto first place, where they have been most of the season, with a 27-13 record.
Still, the league shows it is evenly matched. In the last 10 games of the first half, the second place Coastal Bend Thunder (21-19) and Amarillo Dillas (21-19), the fifth place Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings (18-22) and the last place Laredo Broncos (14-26) all had five wins and five losses.
The Colts won six of their 10, while the fourth place Edinburg Roadrunners (19-21) were 4-6.
The WhiteWings accomplished something that no other club had been able to do, defeat San Angelo’s previously unbeaten Chandler Barnard, who had been 7-0, and former major leaguer Ezequiel Astacio, who was 5-0.
The WhiteWings handled both Colt hurlers with ease. They scored six earned runs off 12 hits in five innings against Barnard.
Then in a battle between former major league pitchers Jesus Sanchez of Rio Grande Valley (3-0) and Astacio, the Wings scored seven runs in the second inning, chasing him from the mound.
However, Barnard could be on his way to breaking the ULB best winning record. His 7-1 record is tops in the league.
The league record is 12 wins, held by Adam Cox, Alexandria, in 2007, and tied by Logan Williams of Amarillo, set last season.
But, both of those were achieved in more games than the league is playing this year.
Dating back further and involving clubs that are now or were in the ULB through last year, Michael Leach of Amarillo won 16 games in 2000, in the Texas-Louisiana League and Darren Brown, Amarillo, and David White, Alexandria, each had 15, in 1997 and 1998 respectively.
Barnard, 23, played for Trinity College of Connecticut, graduating in 2008, when the school won the Division III national championship. He was named a first team All American and went on to play pro ball last year for the Worchester Tornadoes.
San Angelo may have the best hurling staff, including two former major league pitchers, Astacio, who played for the Houston Astros, including in the World Series, and newcomer Tom Martin, who played for seven clubs, including the Astros and Rockies. He last played for the New York Mets.
The Colts also have Brian Henschel, who is second in the league in ERAs, at 2.48.
(The WhiteWings former major league pitcher, Jesus Sanchez tours of duty include the Colorado Rockies and the Cincinnati Reds.
The Colts also have the best hitting average at .303. Second is Amarillo (.288), followed by Laredo (.280), Rio Grande Valley (.276), Edinburg (.264) and Coastal Bend (.252).
The Broncos actually have the best record of the clubs against the Colts, having won five and lost seven.
The Colts also have the best hitter in Brian Frichter (.448), who is back playing after being out with a broken nose.
Other top hitters include:
Terrance McClain, Amarillo (.366), Jason Landreth, San Angelo (.364), Argelis Nunez, Laredo (.350), Trent Lockwood, Amarillo (.347), Santeil Smith, Amarillo (.339), Brian Nichols, Rio Grande Valley (.338) and Agustin Septimo, Rio Grande Valley (.329).
Lockwood leads in RBIs with 46 and Landreth has 43.
Lockwood and Landreth lead in home runs with 10 each.
Jason Diaz, San Angelo, leads in stolen bases with 19 and Frichter is second with 18.
Amarillo’s Ralph Roberts has the lowest ERA among the pitchers, at 2.32. Henschel is second at 2.48.
The Wings closer, Julio Santana, has 10 saves and Chase Vacek, San Angelo, has seven.
Thursday through July 26 — Laredo at Amarillo, Coastal Bend at San Angelo, and Rio Grande Valley at Edinburg.
July 27-30 — San Angelo at Amarillo, Coastal Bend at Edinburg, and Rio Grande Valley at Laredo.