STANTON The Odessa High Bronchos have faced the end of their baseball season so many times over the last month, it’s almost become routine.
And they still keep going.
The Bronchos did it again Saturday — twice, in fact — by defeating San Angelo Central 6-5 and 4-0 behind complete games from pitchers Bobby Salinas and Nick Arenivas to overcome a Game 1 loss and win their Class 6A area playoff series.
Saturday’s games were moved to Stanton High School’s Bulldog Diamond after overnight rains in Abilene left Hardin-Simmons University’s Hunter Field unplayable. The disruption was just one more factor the Bronchos had to overcome to extend their season.
Odessa High (21-11-1) will take on El Paso Montwood, which defeated Hurst Bell in the area round, next weekend in the regional quarterfinals in a matchup of teams that finished fourth in their respective districts. Details of the playoff are to be determined.
In Game 2, Salinas (5-3) worked out of bases-loaded jams in the sixth and seventh innings to foil Central’s comeback bid. He gave up three earned runs on 10 hits. He struck out four and walked four, three of them intentionally.
In Game 3, Arenivas (4-3) kept the Bobcats off balance all day, scattering five hits and four walks while striking out three. Central (24-14-1) never got a runner past second base.
“It’s just really, really cool that both of those guys were put in a situation like that and just responded so well to the pressure,” Odessa High coach Joshua Hulin said. “We had a lot of adversity after losing Game 1 with our ace (Cristian Baeza) on the mound. For our pitchers to step up and throw like they did today was just really cool to see, a lot of fun to watch,”
In Game 2, Central scored in the top of the first, but Odessa High responded with three in the bottom of the inning and never trailed again.
Gibrian Pena had a monster game at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a double and three RBIs. The Bronchos scored at least one run in each of Pena’s at bats.
In the first inning, Pena singled in the tying run and the go-ahead run scored on an error on the play. Pena advanced to third and scored on Jordan Munoz’s groundout. Another run scored when Pena reached on an error in the second and he had a RBI double in the fourth and singled in Charles McClure with the winning run in the sixth.
“I knew we had our backs against the wall,” Pena said. “We knew what the situation was. I had to come through for my team and they came through for me.”
Joey Lozoya (1-1) was charged with three runs, only one earned, over four-plus innings to take the loss. He gave up four hits while striking out four and walking one.
Central’s Nixon Brannan went 3 for 4 with two RBIs, while Cole Nelson was 2 for 4.
Brannan drove in the run in the first and the Bobcats pulled within 4-3 in the third on Brannan’s RBI single and Oscar Nino’s run-scoring groundout.
In the sixth, Rance Rosas singled in two runs to tie it at 5 after an Odessa High error extended the inning. With the bases loaded, Salinas got Gunner Counch to bounce out to first to keep the game tied.
In the seventh, Central loaded the bases with one out o Dawson Daniel’s double, Nelson’s single and an intentional walk to Jakob Charles. Salinas then struck out pinch hitter Ryan Ramon looking and got Blake Mikeska to bounce out to end it.
“I just used my pitches and hit my spots,” Salinas said. “They hit the ball right at us and we made the plays.”
In Game 3, Arenivas and Central freshman Ethan Green (0-1) matched scoreless innings until the fourth, when Odessa High got things going the second time through the order to score the only runs of the game.
Salinas ripped a double to lead off the inning, Baeza singled and, after an intentional walk to Pena, Hervey Nieto singled in two runs. Pilar Ramirez followed with an RBI single before the Bobcats recorded an out, and Nieto scored on an error.
“The clutch hitting we had today from multiple guys was cool to see,” Hulin said. “It was just a team effort and I’m proud of all of them.”
Charles McClure, who went 2 for 3 for the Bronchos, was the only player on either team with more than one hit.
Four runs was enough for Arenivas, who gave up one hit in each of the final four innings but managed to keep Central off the board. While Green was pulled in the fifth, Arenivas went through the Central lineup three times without allowing more than two baserunners in an inning.
“My catcher, Pilar (Ramirez), knew what he was doing,” Arenivas said. “He called pitches that were efficient.”
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