MIDLAND Pitching and defense got the Odessa High Bronchos into the playoffs.
The addition of offense got them to the second round.
The Bronchos completed a sweep of their Class 6A bi-district baseball series against El Paso Americas with a 9-3 victory Saturday at Zachery Field.
The nine runs were Odessa High’s most in a game since a 10-8 victory over Shallowater on March 10 in the Bronchos’ last game before the start of the District 2-6A schedule.
“We preached confidence to the guys all week,” Odessa High coach Josh Hulin said. “We lost two of our three district games, but they were extra-inning games in which we played really well. I feel like we brought a lot of confidence into this series. We were playing good and we played a good team. I’m just proud of the guys.”
Odessa High (24-9), the fourth seed out of District 2-6A, advances to the area round for the first time since the 2009 team reached the regional semifinals. The Bronchos will play former district rival Abilene High next weekend with details of the matchup to be determined.
Julian Jimenez went 3 for 3 with one RBI to lead the Bronchos, who finished with nine hits. Gibrian Pena had a double and two RBIs, and Hervey Nieto put the game away with a bases-loaded triple in the seventh inning.
“We all had the same mindset, a simple approach, try to hit low and hard as much as we could,” said Jimenez, who helped start rallies in the third, fifth and seventh. “We tried to keep everything out of the air if we could. That’s all it was.”
Cristian Baeza singled and drove in a run, and every batter in the Odessa High lineup reached base at least once.
“That’s the most determined I’ve seen us,” Hulin said. “We put pressure on them every inning. I thought our offense was the name of that game.
“I’ve been telling my guys we’ve got a great 1 through 9, you’ve just got to stick with this process that we have and it’s going to happen. We’ve trusted it and we knew it was going to happen. We’re capable of doing that on a consistent basis.”
Odessa High starter Bobby Salinas went six innings for the win, holding District 1-6A champion Americas (24-8-2) to two runs on five hits. Salinas (2-2) repeatedly worked out of trouble as the Trailblazers leadoff man reached in every inning but the third. The Bronchos turned double plays in the first and fourth innings to shut down threats.
“I knew I had a good defense behind me,” said Salinas, who also had a single in the second to help the Bronchos build their first run. “I just needed to trust them and throw strikes. When I couldn’t and didn’t, my team got behind me and told me to use them to help me out. I just went out there trusting myself, trusting my team, and doing what I had to do to help us win.
“Whenever they got on, I just locked in on what I had to do to let my defense help me. I had to help them help me.”
Baeza’s RBI groundout in the second gave Odessa High the lead for good and the Bronchos added two runs in the third on an error and Pena’s sacrifice fly. Trailblazers starter Julian Galindo (8-2) was chased in the fifth as Jimenez and Pena had RBIs, then Nieto gave the Bronchos a 9-1 lead in the seventh with his triple.
“I just had to keep everything simple and put the ball in play,” Nieto said. “The bases were loaded. I just wanted to drive some runs in.”
Americas got on the board in the fourth on Matt Dominguez’s RBI groundout. Adrian Munoz, who was 3 for 3 with a double, singled in two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but the Trailblazers couldn’t take advantage of other opportunities.
“They kept us off balance offensively,” Trailblazers coach Jesse Munoz said. “We just never could get into a rhythm. We squared up some balls that we hit right at them, but offensively we never could get into a rhythm. Odessa High did a good job.”
CLASS 6A BI-DISTRICT PLAYOFF
At Zachery Field, Midland
Odessa High. 012 030 3 — 9 9 0
Americas……. 000 100 2 — 3 6 2
Bobby Salinas, Damian Aspeitia (7) and Andres Martinez. Julian Galindo, Chris Calanche (5), Darrerll Hernaiz (7) and Joe Duran. W — Salinas (2-2). L — Galindo (8-2). 2B — Odessa High: Gibrian Pena; Americas: Adrian Munoz, Calanche. 3B — Odessa High: Hervey Nieto.
Records — Odessa High 24-9, El Paso Americas 24-8-2.