AP NEWS

Deer Park storms past Atascocita to even bi-district series

May 5, 2019

HUMBLE - A funny thing happened to Atascocita’s anticipated easy bi-district sweep of Deer Park Friday.

The thunderstorms came out but the brooms never did as Deer Park employed a seven-run inning with gritty pitching from Matthew Potts and Bryce Mead to claim a 10-8 storm-delayed Game 2 victory at David Sitton Field.

With Deer Park seemingly waiting to receive the knockout punch after Thursday night’s 16-0 thumping in Game 1, head coach Chris Rupp’s crew had other plans, plans that now call for a Game 3 Saturday afternoon at 2 back at Sitton Field.

Mead, who allowed two hits in two-and-two-third innings of relief, forced the Eagles to strand the potential tying runs on the basepaths when he induced Macrae Kendrick to fly out to left field for the game’s final out.

“Bryce has been our go-to guy for two years. He does a great job most of the time. He’s got poise, he’s got composure and in tough situations obviously. We count on him to throw strikes and once again he came through for us,” Rupp said.

Mead was given one of his toughest tasks ever when he took the hill in the fifth and Atascocita having just put four consecutive batters on the basepaths and the Deer lead trimmed to five runs.

He retired his first batter, before a bases-loaded walk on a 3-2 pitch and a two-RBI double from leadoff batter Brice Matthews, who was perfect at the plate with a 3-for-3 afternoon to go with two walks, cut the Deer lead to two runs.

But with the tying run standing on second, Mead induced Kendrick to ground out to third for the inning’s final out.

The fact that Atascocita scored the game’s first run just added fuel to the fire that the Eagles would be celebrating a bi-district title in a matter of hours.

But the District 22-6A’s club’s momentum came to a screeching halt when Deer Park paraded 10 batters to the plate in the second inning, pushing seven across home plate.

It’s no surprise that Alex Olivo lit the fuse to the badly-needed uprising. Olivo singled twice in the inning with his second basehit plating the sixth and seventh runs.

Olivo, Mead, Dylan Heim, Josh Ramirez, Dylan Stone, Noah Ramirez and Jordan Phillips all scored.

But of that group, only Olivo, Heim and Phillips reached base via the basehit. Mead walked and later scored on a passed ball, Josh Ramirez was hit by a pitch and Stone was running for Tyler Weir, who was hit in the face with a pitch.

After the game, Weir’s face was still showing signs of the frightening moment. Below his left eye, it was black and blue and his left cheek, which took the brunt of the ball, looked like a chipmunk’s, loaded with food, it was that swollen.

“It didn’t really hurt. I was just in shock, honestly. It (the ball) skimmed the helmet just a tad and hit me square in the face. It still doesn’t hurt that much, but I’m sure tomorrow, it will,” said Weir, who could be seen holding an ice bag to his face during the first of two lightning delays.

It came the hard way but at least Weir received an RBI. In addition to Olivo’s two ribbies, Josh Ramirez, Drew Baggerly and Phillips also had RBIs in the momentum-turning inning. Heim scored on a shortstop’s error.

But against Atascocita’s third pitcher of the game, Deer Park scored its eighth, ninth and 10th runs. And it didn’t start out well for Steven Cortina, who hit Noah Ramirez with a pitch, walked Baggerly, before Phillips reached on an infield single.

Mead then singled home Ramirez and with two outs, Josh Ramirez deposited a ball into right field, scoring Baggerly and Phillips, increasing the Deer lead to 10-4.

“We had to come back and show a little character today. We did and I’m really proud of the guys for doing that,” Rupp said.

ravery@hcnonline.com