HIDALGO — The Hidalgo baseball program has a well-established playoff tradition having reached the third round in five of the last seven years, including an appearance in the 3A State Tournament in 2014.
But this year, there’s something different with the Pirates as they move on to the Regional Quarterfinals once more, and it all starts in the dugout with junior Eduardo “Lalo” Gonzalez, the ring-leader of “la porra,” or the cheer.
Gonzalez can be found with drumsticks in his hand beating on the bottom of a bucket leading chants of “trompos, trompos, trompos, trompos, trompos, trompos, eh eh.” And the entire dugout is right behind him with bats banging on trash cans and even hangers drumming on chairs in rhythm.
— Fabian Garza (@twins_dad05) May 11, 2019
“That’s something that I’ve never seen and I’ve never had before in this program. We call it the ‘porra’,” Hidalgo coach Karlos Carrasco said. “(Gonzalez) is a big-plus, he runs it, and I’m not going to lie to you, it gets into other teams’ heads. It’s pretty neat to see. He gets it going and it seems the whole dugout gets going behind him. He’ll call you out if you don’t help him out; it’s pretty neat to see.”
Gonzalez might not be a starter on the team, but the impact he and the Hidalgo dugout has is apparent.
“We’re just a bunch of kids having fun and enjoying the game,” he said. “Even though we don’t play, we have to make sure the players out there are having fun too. It makes them happy and they get excited, and that’s how we get turnt up.”
Sophomore Kyle Perales, the team’s No. 2 pitcher, said the louder the Pirates get, the more of an effect they have on the other team.
“It’s absolutely crazy. It’s never quiet when we’re at the plate. It’s all about getting into the pitcher’s head, we just scream anything you can imagine. It’s great because you can see when he’s pitching strikes, and we just keep screaming and he starts going all over the place. You can see that we’re getting to him. We get a hit here, a hit there and next thing you know we’re bringing runs in,” Perales said.
The boost “la porra” gives the Pirates is one thing, but the way their pitchers have been dealing this postseason is another.
The team’s No. 1 pitcher, junior Samuel Salazar, picked up a 3-1 win in Game 2 of the first round against Ingleside, racking up 10 strikeouts as the Pirates eventually won the three-game series 2-1. In the area round against Pleasanton, Salazar had the ball in Game 1 and led Hidalgo to a 6-2 win and struck out 14 more. The two runs allowed came off an early home run, but Salazar locked in to shut the Eagles out.
“In the first inning, they hit a home run. I just get mad and I try to fix it and that’s what happened,” Salazar said. “It felt really good because it was my first time in the second round. I just tried to do my best.”
Perales and Jonathan Treviño round out the starting pitchers for the Pirates as the No. 2 and No. 3.
Both sophomores, Perales faced Pleasanton’s No. 1 starter in the second round and held his own, striking out seven and giving up just one run, but the Pirates ended up falling 4-3 with three runs coming off errors. Treviño closed out Game 1 in relief of Salazar and got the start in the deciding Game 3 as he led Hidalgo to a 13-1 win in five innings, moving the Pirates onto the third round for a matchup with La Vernia.
“I just want to dominate the most I can, and we’ve been doing that pitching-wise. I’m really grateful about all three of our pitchers. It’s going to be pretty tough, but we’re going to make sure we get a dub,” Treviño said.
Game 1 between Hidalgo and La Vernia is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at Tuloso-Midway High School. Game 2 will shift to Freer High School at 2 p.m. Saturday, with Game 3 to follow 30 minutes after, if necessary.