BY HENRY MILLER
(MERCEDES) – When Edcouch-Elsa baseball coach Ryan Garza handed Manny Silva the ball, with his team already down 9-0 with none out in the first, he wasn’t asking much of his freshman pitcher.
“I just asked him to stop the bleeding,” Garza said. “He did.”
Silva pitched seven full innings and gave up just one run on five hits as the visiting Yellow Jackets overcame the 9-0 deficit to claim a 14-10 win in a District 32-5A matchup on Friday night.
The win moves EE to 7-4 in the district and with a lock on third place. Mercedes fell to 4-7 and is in a four-way tie for the fourth and final playoff spot along with Brownsville Pace, Donna and Donna North.
“He’s just an animal out there, every time out we know what he’s going to give us,” Garza said. “Man, he was clutch today.”
Silva allowed the first two batters he faced to reach in the first – the first 10 Mercedes batters all reached base – before forcing a groundout-throwout for a double play. The first inning finally came to an end with a popout to short. The Tigers had scored nine runs on six hits, two walks, a hit batsman and an error.
“We were pretty down right then – it was a rough time for us,” Garza said. “We didn’t play defense and hats off to Mercedes the way they came out.”
Silva found himself in trouble in the third with runners at first and third and only one out. He struck out one Tiger for the second out, hit the next batter to load the bases then froze the next batter with a nasty slider for his second strikeout of the inning. Silva ended up with six strikeouts for the game.
Jarren Garcia started on the mound for EE but couldn’t get out of the first inning. However, he made up for it with his bat, going 4-for-5 at the plate, scoring three runs and driving in four. His one-out double in the top of the fifth drove in two and tied the game at 9.
Mercedes regained the lead when Josh Rodriguez singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored on an error. Silva then struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
“We have a lot of confidence in him and he handled it like it was nothing, no pressure,” Garza said. “It was just awesome to see him do what he did.”
Edcouch-Elsa took its first lead in the sixth, scoring four runs for a 13-10 lead off two singles, four walks and a sacrifice flay. The Yellow Jackets added their final run in the seventh. Despite being down, the Yellow Jackets remained patient, collecting 13 walks on the night to go with 12 hits – four for extra bases.
Mercedes threatened again in the seventh, getting runners at second and third with two out. However, shortstop Aaron Sandoval charged a slow grounder and fired his throw off-balance to first to end the game.
“This picks us up after losing to Brownsville Veterans,” Garza said. “We’re a young team but it’s late in the season and these guys are seeing different game situations and learning. I’m glad our boys fought back, little by little. This was a big game for us.”