The Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Pirate baseball team struggled to string together hits in both of their games against the Needville Bluejays Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8 in the bi-district round of the playoffs in Victoria.
The Pirates finish the 2021 season with an overall record of 17-11-1 after finishing third in District 26-4A with a district record of 8-4.
RFHS Head Baseball Coach Tudi Elizondo said they struggled all weekend to string together hits, until the last inning of game two.
In game one Friday, May 7, RFHS lost 4-1.
Pitcher Luke Muirhead threw four innings and struck out five batters, surrendered three earned runs, and walked one.
Ean McPherson relieved Muirhead in the 5th inning and struck out one and allowed one hit in two innings.
Needville jumped out to a 2-0 lead following a double to centerfield in the 1st inning
The Pirates scored their first run of the game in the 4th inning on an RBI-single from Javier Vela. The score made it 3-1, but Needville scored once more in the bottom of the 4th inning to make it 4-1.
Both team played to a stalemate following the 4th inning.
Vela led RFHS offensively going 1-2 with one RBI.
Muirhead and Jordan Gibson went 1-4.
Ace Seibert and Carsen Flores went 1-3.
In game two Saturday, May 8, RFHS lost 12-9.
Through three innings, the game remained scoreless. It wasn’t until the 4th inning when Needville jumped on the board first with five runs on a series of base hits, including a triple to left field that brought in two runs.
During the 4th inning, two closely contested calls made by umpires at first and second base went in Needville’s favor and allowed them to stack runs. T. Elizondo said there wasn’t much he could do .
“It’s a bang-bang play. They have their side of it, you have your side of it, and all you ask for is a little help here and there,” said T. Elizondo. “Both those plays could have gone our way, but you’ve got to keep focus cause it can fall a part. The quicksand hits. I always tell my kids, ‘You’ve got to get out of the quicksand.’
“We flushed it. They put up zero the next inning and of course they had another inning of four (runs) and I felt like right there it kind of got a little out of hand.”
Flores continued pitching into the sixth inning and was relieved by Trent Upham
Flores finished with two strikeouts, but surrendered 11 hits and seven earned runs
The Pirates were held scoreless until the 6th inning, when Upham hit a deep shot to centerfield for an RBI-double to bring in Muirhead. It was the only run scored by RFHS in the 6th inning. They went into the 7th inning trailing 9-1.
Needville scored three more runs in the top of the 7th inning to make it 12-1. In the bottom of the 7th inning, the Pirates offense came alive with eight runs in a last-ditch effort to catch Needville.
Beginning with McPherson, the Pirates connected on a string of base hits from Isaiah Elizondo, Muirhead, Upham, Seibert, and Sam Mayes.
During their 8-run stretch, Needville changed pitchers three times in an effort to slow the Pirates down.
“I think that was just our ‘Never Quit’ mentality,” said T. Elizondo. “That was the first inning we got one, two, three hits in a row that really got us rolling. We couldn’t get two hits in a row all series, until that last inning. But we battled, shortened up our swings, and had some confidence at the plate.”
The Bluejays eventually ended RFHS’ comeback and the series on a strikeout.
Upham led RFHS offensively going 3-4 with two RBI’s.
Mayes was 2-3 with one RBI and a walk.
I. Elizondo was 2-3 with one RBI and a walk.
With RFHS losing only two seniors at the conclusion of the 2021 season, T. Elizondo said the future looks bright. Only one of those seniors, Mayes, started at third base.
“He (Mayes) spoke to the team afterwards and one thing he said that I was most proud of as a coach was this was the most fun he had playing baseball in a long time,” said T. Elizondo. “When you can leave the program enjoying what you do everyday, as a coach, that’s all you ask for. He played his butt off today and he showed it. He left it all on the line.”
With RFHS returning all but one starter next season, T. Elizondo is excited for the next year of sportsa in general.
“They’re football kids as well so I know we’re going to have a successful football season that hopefully will rollover into the spring with baseball,” said T. Elizondo. “I tell them, ‘Don’t be comfortable. No spot is guaranteed next year with everybody coming back.’ I’m going to move some kids around and put them in positions where we can succeed again and hopefully go farther in the playoffs.”