LAREDO — Boerne-Champion, the No. 2-ranked team in 5A according to the Texas High School Baseball Coaches poll, hadn’t lost a game since March 9. The Chargers (34-6) had outscored their three previous playoff opponents 63-3 in six games and stood at a perfect 6-0 in the postseason.
That was until they faced Sharyland Pioneer (34-8), which held the Chargers to just three runs on Friday, their lowest offensive output since April 9, as the Diamondbacks took Game 1 of their Class 5A Regional Semifinal series 6-3 at Uni-Trade Stadium in Laredo.
“We’re just more relaxed than we used to be,” said Pioneer’s Game 1 starter Jacob Rosales. “In these situations, we just thrive for them. We want the bats in our hands; everyone wants an at-bat in these type of situations. Everyone’s coming up big for us and we’re hitting it full-swing right now.”
The Diamondbacks were thriving early as they put up two runs on five hits during the top of the first inning. Evan Maldonado singled up the middle to score Pedro Tovias and Angel Nuñez followed with another RBI, giving Pioneer a 2-0 edge.
Rosales, a senior, had a perfect game going through four innings of play, but Boerne-Champion broke through during the fifth. Three singles loaded the bases and a walk of Ian Weil gave the Chargers their first run to trim the lead to 2-1.
Pioneer wasn’t about to back down.
Instead, the Diamondbacks added four runs in the top of the seventh inning to extend their lead to 6-1. Rosales came through with his bat to drive in one run and Nuñez stepped up again with a two-out, two-runsingle. The junior catcher, Nuñez, finished 2 for 3 with three RBIs.
“One of the things that we always do is when they score on us, we try to answer back in the earliest way possible,” he said. “Those two runs in the first inning put them at a deficit and gave us momentum to keep on rolling. Jake dominating the early innings and keeping his pitch count low gave us momentum to carry on.”
Sharyland Pioneer coach Casey Smith said it was good to see the way the Diamondbacks responded to the Chargers turning it into a one-run game.
“That was nice to see us bounce back. Obviously, they kept it close; they got a good ball club. They did bring it within one, then our guys kind of responded and came out and scored some runs and that definitely gave us some cushion there at the end,” Smith said.
Boerne-Champion rallied back with two runs during the bottom of the seventh, but it wasn’t enough as Maldonado entered in relief of Rosales to pick up the save. Rosales (8-4) pitched six innings, struck out three and gave up six hits. Maldonado earned his third save of the year, with one inning of work and one strikeout.
Sharyland Pioneer now has the opportunity to close the series out today in Game 2 and Game 3, if necessary.
“We just need to do what we’ve been doing which is come out and continue to play hard,” Smith said. “Obviously, it’s a three-game series for a reason and we’re not near being done. We’ve proven that the last few weeks. We’ve got to come out with an attack mentality and just get after it tomorrow.”
Game 2 is set for 1 p.m. at Uni-Trade Stadium in Laredo, with Game 3, if necessary, to follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 2.