By JUSTIN RAINS
Being brothers, it’s only natural that Angel and Juan Trejo have been through a lot together on the baseball field.
Nothing, however, may compare to what the duo managed to do Tuesday night.
With Palestine’s game against Mexia tied 7-7 and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Juan lined a ball to left field, scoring brother Angel from third.
The hit and run gave Palestine an 8-7 win over the visiting Blackcats but, more importantly, clinched a playoff spot for the Wildcats for the second-straight season.
“I was excited, I was amazed,” Angel Trejo said of his feelings when he saw his brother’s hit. “The crazy thing is that I was at third and my brother was at bat. It’s crazy how me and him met up together.”
Palestine entered the bottom of the seventh down 7-6 after relief pitcher Brian Gummelt had walked in a run in the top half of the inning.
But, James David led off the frame with a double to left-centerfield, and he moved to third on a loop single from Trejo.
That hit put runners at the corners with no one out, and brought up left fielder Devin Harris.
Harris then lifted a semi-shallow fly ball to right that was caught, but PHS coach Austin Evans sent David tagging up from third. The move paid off as the throw was high, and the game was knotted at 7-7.
Then, Juan Trejo came up, and untied it rather quickly.
“My brother was on third, and I just had to get him in,” Juan said. “I’ve been in that situation before, and I’ve failed so I just had to make up for it. I had to believe for myself.”
It was a fitting end to the game for the Wildcats, who have embraced the drama in Evans’ first season as manager.
Earlier in the year, Palestine sparked a massive comeback over these same Blackcats after falling behind early, 7-3, before plating eight runs in a single inning.
Then, they won in walk-off fashion against visiting Groesbeck a week later, 5-4.
“We’ve played this game the same way the entire season...we’ve played it with belief,” Evans said. “Baseball has rewarded them tonight. Baseball has rewarded them because they did what they needed to do, they did what’s right. They had belief.”
Tuesday’s win also takes massive amounts of pressure of the Wildcats, who would have been forced to win on the road in Fairfield Friday to clinch a playoff spot had tonight’s game not gone their way.
Now, Palestine can lock up the second seed out of District 19-3A with a win over the Eagles, due to Palestine owning the tiebreaker over Groesbeck, who clinched a playoff spot with its 4-2 over Palestine last Friday.
“It’s really exciting to know that we’ve taken care of business, we did it at home and we did it on senior night,” Evans said. “I think it will give the team even more life going into the playoffs.”
Palestine looked as if it might put Tuesday’s game out of reach early on.
After starting pitcher Austin Brown worked out of a self-inflicted bases loaded jam in the top of the first, the first six Wildcats to bat in the bottom of the inning reached for Evans’ club.
Juan Trejo led off by getting hit by a pitch, and Zane Worsencroft and Brian Gummelt both walked to load the bases for Brown.
The big senior helped his own cause, lifting a ball to deep left field that banged off the outfield wall, scoring both Trejo and Worsencroft. Gummelt was thrown out trying to score on the play.
Angel Trejo, running early on for Brown, then scored on a triple from David, as did Ryan Zavala, who had been hit by a pitch after Brown’s double.
Palestine added another run in the second, when Worsencroft walked, stole second, then moved to third on a wild pitch. He came in to score on a single by Brian Gummelt.
But, Mexia refused to go quietly.
Brown got himself into trouble in the third, walking the lead-off batter. But, he then induced a ground ball to shortstop that looked as if it might be a double-play.
But, Juan Trejo’s flip to second baseman Chico Herod was ruled to have pulled Herod off of the base, so no outs were recorded.
Brown then walked the next batter to load the bases, which were then emptied by a grand slam home run, which cut Palestine’s lead to 5-4.
Mexia then took the lead in the fifth with two more runs, but Palestine tied things back up when Zavala walked and moved to second on a single from Angel Trejo.
Hen then scored on an error by a Mexia catcher, after he had been caught in a run down between third base and home.
Mexia plated its final run in the top of the seventh, setting up the heroics for Palestine in the bottom of the frame.
After failing to make the playoffs in the seven seasons before last year, Palestine is now postseason-bound for the second-straight year.
“The fact-of-the-matter is, we came and we found a foundation (last season),” Evans said. “Now that we have a foundation, we know how to do it. We just have to execute.”