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De La Garza powers Coronado to sweep of Monterey

De La Garza went 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles and a home run to lead the Mustangs to an 8-4 victory against Monterey.

Posted: April 17, 2012 - 9:54pm  |  Updated: April 18, 2012 - 12:31am
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Monterey's Tyler Pridmore scores despite colliding with Coronado catcher Greg Hewett during their game on Tuesday at O'Banion Field. Coronado won, 8-4.  Zach Long
Zach Long
Monterey's Tyler Pridmore scores despite colliding with Coronado catcher Greg Hewett during their game on Tuesday at O'Banion Field. Coronado won, 8-4.
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Baseball requires a short memory. For every mistake a player makes, there are countless more opportunities to make amends.

Just ask Coronado shorstop Paxton De La Garza, whose throwing blunder in the fourth inning at O’Banion Field on Tuesday was completely bleached away by a monster performance at the plate.

De La Garza went 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles and a home run to lead the Mustangs to an 8-4 victory against Monterey. The win gave Coronado a season sweep of the Plainsmen and put the Mustangs in the driver’s seat for the District 2-5A title at 7-2. Montrey is in third place (5-4), half a game behind idle Amarillo (5-3).

“We didn’t come out too good last game,” De La Garza said of his team’s 6-4 loss to Amarillo on Saturday. “I wanted to prove to everybody that wasn’t us right there. I just came out ready to go and I felt good today.”

The University of Missouri-bound shortstop drove in four runs with two loud swings. He belted a gargantuan solo home run to left field off Monterey starter Kit Henderson in the first, and his three-run double in the sixth highlighted a five-run inning helped turn a neck-and-neck affair into a lopsided one.

Earlier, with two outs and nobody on in the fourth, De La Garza made an impressive stop in the hole on a Tyler Pridmore ground ball, but his throw to first was low and first baseman Landon Rousseau was unable to pick it out of the dirt.

Monterey turned the miscue into a two-out rally, scoring a pair of runs on base hits by Colsen Craddick and Blake Walden to take a 2-1 lead. But Coronado struck back with a two-run double from Chase Sarchet in the bottom of the inning and then pulled away with the big sixth.

“If we come up with it, they don’t scratch (across the runs),” Coronado coach Gary Hix said of the fourth-inning play. “But that’s baseball; that’s all it is. But (De La Garza) definitely made up with the home run in the first and a three-run double, and that’s what we needed. ... We came right back and answered, and that was big.”

Coronado also needed a strong outing from starter Garrison Howard, and it got just that. The right-hander allowed only two unearned runs, using a deceptive curveball and a well-placed fastball to keep Plainsmen hitters off balance through 4 2/3 innings of work.

Howard struggled at times earlier this season while tinkering his mechanics, but he commanded the strike zone with ease against Monterey. He struck out five Plainsmen on called third strikes, most on curveballs that were buckling the knees of right-handed hitters.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the kid, really couldn’t” Hix said. “He came in and all we talked about was throwing strikes, not putting everything on your shoulders and just letting those guys play behind you. He threw 82 pitches, and only 26 of them were balls. I know they hit some balls hard, but we made some plays behind him, and that’s the game.”

Hix said Howard’s performance was key for his confidence as the Mustangs hope to embark on another deep playoff run, and the right-hander certainly seemed relieved after the strong outing.

“Man, it felt like none other,” he said. “It was great. I’m glad these guys played behind me and gave me this defense tonight.”

The final chapter of this long-standing district rivalry — the two teams won’t be district opponents for at least two years due to UIL realignment — lived up to expectations throughout. Monterey put together timely hits that were missing in the teams’ first two meetings and got strong pitching performances from Henderson and reliever Logan Bradley.

But the Plainsmen couldn’t stop the bleeding during Coronado’s monster fifth, when Monterey was burned by an inability to make an out on a routine double-play ball.

“In these kinds of games you have to make every play,” Monterey coach Kent Meador said. “We didn’t and they capitalized on it. They put a five-spot up and that was, obviously, the difference in the game.”

Now the Plainsmen, too, must have short memories, with three games left to improve their playoff seeding.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Meador said, “but we can build on it.”

nick.kosmider@lubbockonline.com

• 766-8735

george.watson@lubbockonline.com

• 766-2166

CORONADO 8, MONTEREY 4

Monterey 000 200 2 — 4 8 1

Coronado 100 205 X — 8 13 2

Henderson, Bradley (4), Bradshaw (6), Del Toro (6) and Craddick. Howard, Bridges (5) and Hewett. W—Howard. L—Henderson. 2B—Monterey, Craddick, Salyer, Archer; Coronado, De La Garza 2, Sarchet. HR—Coronado, De La Garza.

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