SOMERSET — A two-hour lightning delay finally let up, allowing the Pleasanton Eagles and Hondo Owls determine the No. 1-seed for District 29-4A on Monday.
That only gave way to more shenanigans.
The Eagles (22-7) beat Hondo (13-13-1) 6-5 on Monday, May 3. In addition to the lightning, the stadium lights at Somerset’s field turned off after the game continued past 11 p.m. and stayed off for 14 minutes. The unofficial time of game, once delays were factored in, was roughly five hours.
Pleasanton was supposed to play Devine on Friday before the monsoon washed that game away, despite a makeup attempt on Saturday. Three of the four district chairs in 29-4A declared the season over and that Pleasanton and Hondo were co-district champions. The two just had to sort out playoff seeding.
“It’s amazing,” Head Coach Lance Standley said. “I’ve tried to tell the kids it isn’t their fault. We haven’t played [consistently] for two weeks. Baseball’s a skill sport. I just tried to keep convincing them and they kept trying to play like they were playing every day. I tried to tell them we need to relax, take some pitches, lay down a bunt, don’t press. But they just wanted it so bad, I couldn’t tone them down.
A big three-run inning in the second helped the Eagles get the lead back after falling behind 2-1 in the first. Sean Ramos delivered a run with a well-executed hit-and-run before Auston Gillespie grounded to third to drive another run in. The third run came around on a error on Gillespie’s ground ball.
The Eagles also scored five of their six runs with two outs.
“What was awesome was we were taking until we got a strike,” Standley said. “They got a little ahead in the count and I think it gave them a little better pitches to hit. You don’t get as many curveballs when the guy’s down in the count.”
Neither starting pitcher had a career day. Pleasanton’s Max Sauceda and Hondo’s Kaleb Gauna each went just 2 2/3 innings.
Sauceda allowed five runs on four hits with four strikeouts to pick up no decision for the Eagles before handing the lead over to the bullpen. Gauna allowed six runs on four hits.
It was the bullpen that carried the Eagles the distance, with Tanner Hollis pitching 2 1/3 innings of shut out baseball, allowing just a pair of hits with two strikeouts to pick up the win on the hill.
“What I love is, he’s excited,” Standley said. “He loves it. Tanner, he could play baseball 24 hours a day, seven days a week if he didn’t have to sleep. He lives for these situations.”
Roman Cuevas picked up the six-out save, allowing just one hit in two innings of work. Cuevas punctuated his first inning of relief with a strikeout. He also started the game-ending 1-6-3 double play to seal Monday’s win.
“It felt amazing,” Cuevas said. “I can’t express how amazing it felt. I couldn’t do it by myself. I had my teammates with me and supporting me, making plays. They kinda helped with the first [ground ball]. I couldn’t have done that by myself.”
The two teams met six days prior, with Hondo winning 6-4 on a slick day in Medina County. That tied the season series at 1-1.
Had Pleasanton been able to play Devine over the weekend as scheduled, Standley was prepared to trot out some of his less experienced pitchers to get them into high-leverage situations to prep for playoffs.
After having the Devine game washed out and seeing Hondo across the way, Standley wanted to put best on best with Sauceda taking the mound.
“When it came down to it, nose-to-nose, we went back to Max and said this was a must-win situation,” Standley said. “So, I changed it up from just trying to get kids ready for the playoffs to, ‘Hey, we need to win this game.’ First seed and second seed had positives in the first, second and third rounds. … Tonight we wanted to win and try to get everyone pitching. It worked out perfectly.”