On the winning track

Senior Zach Bourgeois crosses the plate to score the winning run over Needville at home Friday night. 

 

The El Campo Ricebirds have eclipsed their 2018 win total of 14 wins after beating Needville Friday night and Bay City Saturday morning.

Against the Needville Blue Jays at home Friday night, in a District game, the Ricebirds won 3-2 with a walk-off to give them their 15th win of the year. Hours later in a non-District game, the Ricebirds beat the Bay City Blackcats 9-8 on the road Saturday morning.

“We’re not better on paper than we were last year,” senior Zach Bourgeois said. “But I think we’re a better team all the way around. We have better chemistry and that matters. It’s a good feeling.”

The Ricebirds are now 16-6 on the season and 5-2 in District play with six games left to go (five District, one non-District).

“This team is pretty resilient,” Coach Russell Krenek said. “We’ve gotten behind in a few ballgames and we’ve come back in quite a few ballgames. We’re in a good place. We’re playing pretty good baseball.”

With their second win over Needville, they have a two-game lead over the Jays for the third playoff spot and trail the Sealy Tigers by one game for second place.

The Ricebirds trailed Needville 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh Friday night, but the bats came alive at the right time and they pulled off a second comeback over the Jays.

To start District play earlier in the season, the Ricebirds engineered a 4-2 win after trailing by two runs in the sixth.

At home Friday night, the Ricebirds again ripped victory out of the hands of the Jays.

In the top of the fifth inning, the Ricebirds led 1-0. 

Needville the grabbed the lead after two walks and three errors.

 In the bottom of the seventh, the Ricebirds got two hits and took advantage of a Needville error to seal the comeback.

Sophomore Tyler Baklik started off the inning with a single. Senior Rowdy Wilson came in-to pinch run for him. 

The Ricebirds struck out for the first out, but Wilson was able to make it to second with a stolen base. Bourgeois on a 3-2 count hit a double to center field to score Wilson and tie the game.

“I made (an) error (eariler) and we were down,” Bourgeois said. “I knew I had to come back for my guys so I did my the best I could at the plate.”

Junior Seth Estrada followed with a slow roller back to the pitcher. The Needville pitcher rushed the throw to third to get Bourgeois but the ball skipped past the fielder. The senior Ricebird made the turn at third base and raced home to seal the walk-off win.

“It went by so fast it’s hard to explain (my excitement),” Bourgeois said. “It is a good feeling and I want to feel it again.”

On the mound, the duo of junior Wayne Svatek and senior Blaine Bullard limited the Blue Jays to just one hit and four walks and no earned runs. 

The Ricebirds Friday night will get Sealy at home with a chance to tie them for second place in District.

“We’ve (separated) between third and fourth place and now we have the opportunity to go knock off one of the two teams in front of us,” Krenek said.

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