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In his fourth year as Veterans Memorial High School’s (VMHS) head baseball coach, Casey Smith has his sights set on winning the first baseball district championship in school history. His plan is to have his players focus on improving each day and let the future take care of itself.
“Primarily our goal is to get better every day,” explained Smith. “That’s something that we talk about with the kids. We use the phrase, ‘win the day.’”
“We feel that if we come to practice every day and win that particular day and not worry about one week from now, or what’s going to happen a month from now, that’s how we get better. And if we can do that we’ll continue to improve. And if we continue to improve, the results will take care of themselves,” added Smith.
So far this season, Smith’s philosophy seems to be working. The Patriots are not only winning each day but, as of press time Thursday morning, they’ve won 17 of their 21 games overall and six of their seven district games. Their most recent win came last Friday night against the Mission Eagles.
In that game VMHS senior outfielder Isaac Guerrero broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third inning when with just one swing of the bat he put four runs on the board with a grand slam over the left-centerfield fence.
“That was Isaac’s first homerun of the year,” explained Smith. “We play in a pretty big ballpark, but Mission’s is a little bit smaller, so we focus on hitting line drives and ground balls because we’re not going to hit a lot of homeruns in high school baseball. But Isaac squared it up and hit it on the button to knock it out of the ballpark.”
Mission bounced right back in the bottom of the third with five runs of their own to take a 5-4 lead over Smith’s squad. The Eagles’ advantage was short lived however as the Patriots scored their fifth, sixth and seventh runs of the game in the top of the fourth to re-gain the lead, an advantage that VMHS would not relinquish the rest of the way.
After a scoreless fifth frame, the Patriots tacked on two runs in the sixth and three in the seventh to take a 12-5 lead into the bottom of the seventh. The scrappy Eagles made some noise in their final at-bat when three Mission base runners crossed the plate to pull to within four runs and make things interesting. Unfortunately for the Mission fans in attendance it was too little too late as the Eagles failed to plate any additional base runners and fell by a final score of 12-8.
On the mound VMHS sophomore starter Edward Pena pitched 6 1/3 innings to earn the win and improve his district record to 3-0 (6-0 overall). Julian Fernandez pitched the final 2/3 of an inning to earn the save. At the plate Pena went 1-4 with a double and drove in two run while Fernandez went 3-3, reached base five times and scored three runs for the victorious Patriots.
Veterans Memorial will be opening its second round of district play Tuesday at 7 p.m. with a home game against Mercedes. Mission will be opening its second half of the season by hosting Valley View Thursday, April 4 at 7 p.m..
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.