The Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Pirate baseball team ended its season earlier than expected against the Robstown Cotton Pickers 5-3 Tuesday, April 23 in Robstown.
In a win to get in situation, the Pirates were not able to force the extra game against fourth place Robstown after two runs scored by the Pickers in the fifth inning went unanswered by the Pirates.
“Robstown is always a strong program and to go to their place with their fans is always tough,” said RFHS Head Baseball Coach Jerry Howell. “The boys battled and played hard. They understand that when they play together and trust each other they are tough to beat. One thing that I was really proud of from a team standpoint, while there were many individual, was our running game. We moved runners over on stolen bases, bunts, hits, and runs that really put pressure on the Robstown pitchers.”
RFHS ends its season with a 7-7 district record and 15-12 record overall. The 7-7 district record placed them fifth in District 31-4A standings.
It was a disappointment for the Pirates as the district continues to get tougher at the top.
“I really feel that I can not stress enough how difficult our district is. In the past, once you got to eight wins in district that meant you were in the playoffs. This year, if we would have beat Robstown, it would have meant nine wins were needed to get in,” said Howell.
Howell also stressed how important it will now be to compete against good programs such as Sinton, Robstown, and Beeville.
“Baseball is a sport you have to make sure you fine tune your skills through out the year,” said Howell. “Not saying you have to play year round or only play baseball, but you have to spend time out of the regular season to keep the skills strong.”
Garrett Loudermilk was the starting pitcher for RFHS and threw four innings, striking out three and allowing three earned runs. He was also 1-2 at bat and scored one run.
In the first inning, RFHS was unable to score but held Robstown defensively. Cass Flores had a hand in each out and also fielded a double play with a line drive catch and throw back to second to tag the runner out.
In the third inning, Robstown got on the board first with a shallow hit to right field to bring in a runner on third.
In the top of the fourth inning, RFHS answered back with three runs.
With three straight hits to open the inning by Loudermilk, Tanor Waggoner, and L. Muirhead, RFHS scored its first run off a bunt by Muirhead and took first base.
Waggoner then stole home plate with L. Muirhead drawing the attention of the Robstown infield on a steal at second base.
Michael Mayes also connected on a hit for a single after an error by the first baseman. On the error, L. Muirhead continued to run and got home just in time to put RFHS up 3-1.
In the bottom of the fourth, Robstown connected on two doubles that resulted in two more runs brought in to put the game at 3-3 going into the fifth inning.
In the fifth, RFHS put two runners on but was not able to bring anyone in for a score.
Loudermilk was relieved by Adam Muirhead to start the fifth.
Robstown was able to collect a couple hits and a walk to score one run with the bases loaded after a base hit. On an errant pitch that got behind Mayes, Robstown scored another run before the end of the inning to go up 5-3.
In the sixth inning, RFHS kept Robstown from scoring on a big defensive play at home by A. Muirhead to tag out a Robstown base runner.
However, RFHS was unable to get anything going at bat in the final two innings and lost 5-3.
L. Murhead led RFHS offensively, going 1-2 with one run batted in (RBI) and one walk.
Mayes went 1-2 with one RBI.
Waggoner went 1-3 and scored one run.
The Pirates will be losing three seniors at the conclusion of the 2019 baseball season. Waggoner, Mayes, and Connor Robinson will be graduating in May.
Mayes and Waggoner have played and contributed to the varsity team since their freshman year.
“These guys I have been following and talking to at the youth fields since they were in Pony League at Tiger field,” said Howell. “Seeing these guys leave is pretty tough. It’s like having your own son graduating through the program.”
Waggoner garnered second team All-District honors in his sophomore year and first team his junior year.
“Tanor’s been a strong leader ever since he was a freshman playing on varsity,” said Howell. “He started standing out to us as a freshman at the Cuero tournament early in the year. His ability to play at that level stood out early.”
Mayes has played where the Pirates have needed him to all over the field; playing as an outfielder, catcher, and pitcher throughout his four years in the program. Mayes plans to join the U.S. Air Force.
“Michael joined the varsity halfway through his freshman year and was a strong outfielder for us. We knew we needed to get him on the mound or behind the plate as soon as possible,” said Howell. “He really understood the work that needed to be done in the offseason and was a strong leader in this. He worked his way to being one of the starting pitchers and our starting catcher.”
With only three seniors departing, Howell is excited for future of the program.
“There will be some good things in Pirate baseball next year,” said Howell. “I talked to the guys about how important the offseason will be for us and how important it will be to get our guys out playing this summer. We have some holes to fill and they are big.”
The Pirates had another strong freshman class this year and many of them will fill big roles next year.
“Behind the plate, Joe Moreno has been doing great things on JV and has been traveling with varsity in a bullpen role. We really think he’ll be able to take on the pressure of the position that L. Muirhead took on when Mayes was hurt,” said Howell. “Other than that, it’ll be interesting to see the guys who will work hard over the summer and fall and be ready for next year. The district isn’t going to get easier, so we have to step up to the plate and be ready for next year.”