Bloomington baseball has seen better years.
But on Thursday night, as the mosquitoes and darkness descended on the school’s baseball field there were reasons to smile. The Bobcats 9-4 win over visiting Edna was the 600th career victory for its baseball coach Edward “Hodie” Garcia. Bloomington scored five runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back. Afterward, Garcia deflected the credit to his players because they played to their potential, executed and were rewarded with a comfortable win. He said the win was just as sweet as any other in his 34 year career. “To me, it’s just another game,” Garcia said. “I have been involved in a lot of ball games. I am proud of these boys because this group was the one that got that victory for this program. Not so much for me, but for the program.
“What I really like about this program is I try to maintain consistency. Win or lose that’s what I try to teach these kids, consistency on the field and consistency in life and doing things right.” Moments after senior second baseman Dennis Cano caught Guy Dodson’s pop up to end the game, Garcia shook the hands of the two umpires, made his team run a few sprints down the right field line, and participated in a postgame prayer. “I was nervous big time,” Cano said about recording the last out, to the amusement of fellow seniors Aaron Garza and Andres Castro. “I just hoped not to drop the ball and cause the team to keep on going. I was relieved.” The loss was the third straight for Edna (6-11, 3-3.) Javier Reyes pitched a complete game to lift Bloomington to 3-11 overall and 1-5 in district for the season. Dodson took the loss for the Cowboys after allowing nine runs in 5.1 innings.
“He pitched a great game,”
Garza said of Reyes. “Coach got on him after he messed up on a couple plays, but he shook it off and didn’t let it get to him. He kept pitching and he pitched a great game. That was big for us. It helped us settle down and we weren’t all worried and tense. We were just relaxed out there.” Thursday’s district 26-2A contest was won like so many others in Garcia’s career that includes stints at Calhoun, Rio Grande City and the 1985 Class 5A state championship at Stroman. His boys played solid defense, were aggressive on the basepaths and bunted when they had a runner on third with less than two outs. Bloomington scored four runs on squeeze plays. In the fifth inning of a 6-3 game, Garcia asked Castro to bunt Dodson’s 2-2 pitch with one out and runners on second and third. Nathaniel Sanchez scored from easily and Keanu Escamilla scampered around from second to re-establish a five-run lead. Castro finished 1-2 with a run and those two RBIs.
He said Garcia is the best baseball coach he’s ever had because he’s instilled consistency, confidence and the will to persevere in him and the rest of the Bobcats. “He’s meant a lot. He’s stuck with us throughout the struggles,” Castro said. “He loves baseball and he loves being with us.” All 12 boys on the team contributed in the win. Whether it was Sanchez going 2-3 at the plate, John Mendez making a handful of fine plays at short to freshman Rolando Hinojosa scoring a run in the sixth. “When it comes to the squeeze play, I guarantee you I throw the book out the window. I am trying to score some runs,” Garcia said. “He failed on the first, failed on the second on, then he fouled one off and then we came back with it on two strikes. I am not afraid to do it with two strikes and we scored two runs on that (fifth inning) play.”
Junior Josh Cantu stole three bases and scored two runs as a courtesy runner. In the third, Cantu scored on a failed squeeze play. Edna’s catcher was in position to apply the tag, but the 113-pound Cantu ran through the tag to give Bloomington a 6-0 lead. Thursday night Garcia wore a T-shirt that encapsulated that mantra “Bloomington Baseball Champions Win or Lose.” Bloomington’s win meant Edna and Tidehaaven both have three losses in District 26-2A play, which gave the Bobcats a chance — albeit a minute one — to top both teams for the third and final playoff spot. “I am happy for my boys. That’s the main thing,” Garcia said. “I know they are very capable of winning. I love my boys and as long as they keep trying and never quit, I will hang in there with them.”