The Panthers (6-6, 3-1 Dist. 4-6A) put seven runs on the board in the sixth en route to a 12-2 mercy rule victory after six innings over Arlington Sam Houston(0-5, 0-4). For coach Darrell Preston, however, Paschal’s blunders on defense and missed opportunities at the plate stood out more than the final score.
“We kind of played down a little bit,” Preston said. “Some of that is to be expected when you come off two big wins, but this game is about adjustments. We coached it, preached it the two days before the game, and we come out and didn’t execute.”
Right-hander Drew Medford got the start for Paschal, retiring the first three batters in order. Preston kept Medford on a pitch count, however, moving him to catcher after two innings. Sophomore Ben Ayana took over on the mound in the third.
The Panthers loaded the bases for Medford with no outs in the third leading 1-0. The junior hit a full count sac fly to left to bring in Cal Quevedo to make the score 2-0. But Sam Houston’s Enrique Herrera was able to escape the inning without any further damage, despite having two on and just one out.
Sam Houston put Ayana in a jam in the fifth. Leading 3-0, Ayana gave up a double to Caesar Aguilar. Elliot Cerrillo then hit a pitch hard toward short that popped off Reese McDonald’s glove to put runners on second and third.
Aguilar scored from third to make it 3-1 on an error by Paschal’s William Floyd, who tried to throw home on a grounder to first but was off target. Brian Gonzales then hit an RBI groundout to make it 3-2.
“We kind of tried to walk through it,” Preston said. “We did everything opposite of what we were coached to do.”
The Texans gave the Panthers a lot of help in the final two frames. After Paschal extended its lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the frame on a two-run double by third baseman Sergio Conchas, RBI singles by McDonald and Medford ran the lead to 7-2. Floyd, Conchas and Johnny Pulido then drew three consecutive walks with the bases loaded to put Paschal up 10-2.
On the Texans’ third pitcher of the inning, Ayana drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single to make it 12-2 and enact the mercy rule, which goes into effect if there is a 10-run lead after five innings.
Despite Paschal’s troubles, Medford earned praise from his coach after the game. The junior gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first. He finished the night 3-of-4 with 3 RBI.
“He’s a ball player,” Preston said. “He’s a field rat, he’s a great kid to have around. He’s always wanting to be at the ball park. I’m proud of him. He’s one of our better players, and he’s a leader. And he has a chance to play this game for a long time.”
Quevedo’s RBI groundout in the fourth inning gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead. He was 2-for-3 and also had a stolen base.
The Panthers will go on the road to face Arlington Martin and Arlington Bowie next week. Preston said that to beat those squads, his team can’t make the same mistakes it made Friday.
“It’s nice to get the win, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “But the Paschal program is not going to play like that.”