They could have packed it in a long time ago, but that was not an option for Matt Benavidez' club. The Jags kept on battling despite a winless district mark, and the perseverance paid off on the final night of the season.
Econ nipped North 6-5 Friday, behind some timely hitting from big Juan Salazar and gutty pitching from curveballer Robert Galvan. Through they had played some close, competitive ball games in the second half of the slate, barely dropping tilts against Harlingen, P-SJ-A, and Pharr North, the elusive victory did not come until the end.
But on Parents' Night out east, the kids got their reward.
"I think we may have to make every night Parents' Night," laughed Benavidez Saturday. "We had a big crowd out there and the kids were into it. They played hard and they did something we have had trouble doing, and that's finishing. We closed them out, and after some close, tough games, that's what we had to do."
The Jags (1-13) continued to improve in the field, turning three double plays against the Cougars (who ended up 3-11) getting relief help from Justin Montano to seal the deal.
"When we got runners in scoring position, we did the job, and that is something else we needed to get better at," said the coach, who was busy preparing the Econ field for a seeding playoff Saturday pitting Santa Rosa against his alma mater, Falfurrias.
In other action Friday, EHS missed a chance to tie for the 31-5A title by getting pounded by Harlingen South, 10-2. P-SJ-A lost a narrow one to rival Pharr North and the Bobcats could have ended up knotted for the top spot. As it is, Coach Robert Valdez' band heads into bi-district play as the second seed from 31-5A, matched up against a 14-12 Brownsville Hanna club that has been playing well lately.
That three-game series starts Thursday in Brownsville and continues with Game Two Friday at EHS. Game Three, if necessary, would be Saturday at EHS, first pitch at 2 p.m.
NOTES: Former EHS star Austin Casas has become a steady contributor to Manny Mantrana's UTPA club, as he has pitched in six ball games for the Broncs with a 1-0 record and a 5.79 ERA.
TRACK AND FIELD
In their last track and field meet before the Great West Conference meet next week, the UTPA Broncs got several outstanding performances from city kids at the Bobcat Invitational at San Marcos.
Former EHS star Diana Galloso ran 20th in the 800 and 13th in the 1,500, while sister Hilda was ninth in the 3,000. Their Lady Bobcat teammate Veronica Tabb came in 14th in the long jump and 11th in the triple jump. Another EHS grad, Abby Garza, was seventh in the javelin.
On the men's side, former North great Marco Adriana ran a 22.65 in the 200 for 12th place, as he has transferred home from The University of Texas-Arlington to run for Pan Am. Another ex Coog, Wally Gonzalez, came in at 1:51.34 in the 800 meters, placing fifth, while North alum Luis Serrano had a strong second-place run in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
The GWC meet will be in Orem, Utah, next week.
In other spring sports news, the city track and field kids headed off to San Antonio to compete in the regional meet Monday and Tuesday, while golfer Jessica Tamen was preparing for her state golf outing next week in Austin.