Editor's note: College Baseball Nation is joined by guest writer, Riley Zayas, for coverage of the Texas Collegiate League. Riley Zayas is a high school freshman and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kid reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, his personal blog 360 Sports, and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports magazine and website. He is passionate about all things sports, and can be followed on Twitter at @ZayasRiley.
Covid-19 strikes in Frisco, cancelling series
It did not take long for Covid-19 to turn up in the TCL, as one member of the Frisco Roughriders’ front office, who is not involved with baseball activities, tested positive for the virus. It led to the complete shutdown of the Roughriders’ front office, and stadium, Dr. Pepper Ballpark. According to the team all employees have been tested, and General Manager Andy Milovich said a number of them tested positive.
Perhaps the toughest thing about this when it comes to the TCL is the fact that the opening series at Dr. Pepper Ballpark between Frisco and the Amarillo Sod Squad, was cancelled. This caused a major kink in the standings as both of those teams will now play three games less than the rest of the north division. In addition, unlike the rest of the league, if the series was planned for July 7-9 were to go on, the stadium would be closed to the public.
“We certainly feel a responsibility to our friends and colleagues in the League and do not want our actions to create a burden for them or their communities.” -Andy Milovich, GM Frisco Roughriders
Even more worrisome, there is talk of the Roughriders possibly pulling out of the league, although it would be a last resort.
“We certainly feel a responsibility to our friends and colleagues in the League and do not want our actions to create a burden for them or their communities,” said Milovich. “We also have tremendous empathy for our players, who just want to play and have already lost so many opportunities to do so this year. We are confident our discussions with the League will produce a thoughtful plan going forward that will not jeopardize the League, its members or our players.”
There is only hope that this situation in Frisco can be resolved soon, that everyone stays safe and that the schedule can be played out as planned.
Due to this unforeseen circumstance, both Frisco and Amarillo will be ranked near the bottom of our power rankings, as they played only three games in comparison to six, like the rest of the league.
Houston hitters guide Round Rock Hairy Men to series win
Coming into the series against Round Rock, the Amarillo Sod Dogs were running as the TCL’s top team. After all, the Sod Dogs were the only undefeated team left in the league. Despite home field advantage, Round Rock’s bats in game one overwhelmed Amarillo, as the Hairy Men handed the Sod Dogs their first loss in franchise history (Amarillo is a first year team). Houston’s Rey Mendoza, Ryan Hernandez and Luke Almendarez combined for six hits and three runs in that first game. All three had at least one hit in each game of the series, with Round Rock taking game two, 7-6 before falling in the finale 10-3.
Texarkana rallies with 10 runs in the final two innings to take down Tulsa
It seemed as if Texarkana’s first win of the season was not going to come on Saturday night at home against Tulsa. After all, they were trailing the Drillers 12-5 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. However, the Twins did not abandon the fight, and found themselves stringing together runs, starting with an RBI single by Sam Creed, which scored Reed Spenrath from third. Ricardo Leonett had perhaps the biggest hit of the inning, as he hit a double which scored three, to close the gap to 11-9. Two more runs would follow in the seventh, with the Twins trialing by just one, 12-11, heading into the eighth. Tulsa only mustered one base runner, in the top of the frame, which gave way to another multi-run inning for Texarkana. Leonett again came up big, as he reached base on a hit by pitch and came around to score on a Charlie Welch double, which put them in front for good. A total of four runs would cross the plate in the eighth for the Twins, as they claimed their first lead of the ballgame. In the top of the ninth, Tulsa could not muster any kind of offensive production, resulting in an improbable, come-from-behind, 15-12 victory for Texarkana.
Hitter of the Week: Eduardo Acosta, Lubbock Christian, Amarillo Sod Dogs
Chase Almendarez, manager of the Round Rock Hairy Men told me early on in the week, that getting his hitters to see live pitching would be crucial, because they had not seen it in over three months. That obviously did not affect Acosta’s fantastic hitting, as he got off to a hot start to begin the TCL season. A native of San German, Puerto Rico, the outfielder strung together multiple hits in Amarillo’s first four games, and currently has a six-game hit streak going. He finished the week with a .429 batting average and nine RBI.
Pitcher of the Week: John Cheatwood, Marshall, Brazos Valley
Cheatwood was superb in two outings for the Bombers, allowing zero runs while striking out five. He allowed a total of just seven runners (three walks, four hits), in 20 batters faced. A skilled reliever, he was who Brazos Valley manager Brian Nelson went to in the season opener against Round Rock, as Cheatwood did three innings of work in the 9-4 victory in which he earned the win.
Brazos Valley Bombers (4-2): It was a battle for the top spot, with four teams finishing week one with a 4-2 record, but ultimately, it was Brazos Valley who showed the biggest potential moving forwards. Facing two quality opponents in the Round Rock Hairy Men and Victoria Generals, the Bombers struggled at times but found ways to earn victories. Partially, it was thanks to their hitting as they finished the week with a team batting average of .250.
Amarillo Sod Dogs (4-2): After sweeping the opening series against Texarkana, Amarillo suffered two losses to Round Rock before rebounding to win the rubber match on Sunday night. The Sod Dogs had more trouble with Round Rock than was expected, but the fact that they lost both by a difference of three runs or less keeps them in the conversation for the TCL’s best team thus far.
San Antonio Flying Chanclas (4-2): It took a combined effort on the mound for San Antonio, as the Flying Chanclas used 14 pitchers who assembled a 3.44 ERA in week one. While they dropped their first series of the season to the Amarillo Sod Squad, the Chanclas stomped all over Acadiana to sweep the series, including a 12-2 rout on Independence Day.
Tulsa Drillers (4-2): Being that the Drillers strength of schedule was a bit lower than both Amarillo’s and Brazos Valley’s, they finished week one ranked fourth in our rankings. Although pitching was a bit errant (5.11 team ERA) and there was not a lot of offense (.150 team batting average), the Drillers found ways to win their opening series against Frisco and the weekend showdown with Texarkana.
Round Rock Hairy Men (3-3): A slow start plagued the Hairy Men, who dropped their first two games of the season against Brazos Valley. The fact that they managed to beat both the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in our rankings at least once (Brazos Valley once, Amarillo twice) says a lot about the strength and depth of the squad moving forwards.
Victoria Generals (3-3): The Generals faced Acadiana to open things up, and grinded it out to win that series two games to one. Against the Bombers, Victoria struggled to combat the hot-hitting, although Baylor’s Tre Richardson went 6 for 19 in the series.
Acadiana Cane Cutters (1-5): The Cane Cutters held their own against Victoria, losing two games by a margin of just one run, and earning their only victory in game two of that series, before being swept by San Antonio. Southern’s Zavier Moore led the way at the plate, and looks to continue to be a key fact for Acadiana. He finished the week batting .353, with six hits, three walks, and two runs scored.
Texarkana Twins (1-5): The only high point of the week, in terms of wins, came on the 4th in that come-from-behind victory at Tulsa. Besides that, Texarkana struggled, as the Twins were swept by the Sod Dogs to kick off the season, and were defeated by Tulsa two games to one. Pitching was likely the cause, as eight of the team’s pitchers registered ERAs above nine.
Amarillo Sod Squad (2-1): The Sod Squad’s week was cut short after the series at Frisco was cancelled due to positive Covid-19 results in Frisco’s front office, but we saw plenty from their pitchers as they took the opening series against San Antonio, winning the first two games by scores of 9-6 and 1-0.
Frisco Roughriders (1-2): The Riders found a way to defeat Tulsa in game two of that opening series on the road, but dropped the other two. The team lacked offensive firepower, registering a team batting average of .188.
Thanks for stopping by! Follow us on Twitter and on Instagram to keep up with all of our content! If you like what you are seeing from us and want to support us, consider becoming a Patreon supporter. We depend upon the support of our amazing fans!