Pearland and Ridge Point meet Thursday in the regional semi-finals

By on May 25, 2022 0

It wasn’t a towering roster, a plethora of NCAA Division I talent, or consistently dominating performances that shaped Pearland’s 17-game baseball winning streak.

As Oilers head coach David Rogers explains, it’s just baseball.

“They go out there, follow a game plan, do their best to execute it and believe in it,” Rogers said of his players.

Don’t expect Pearland (32-7) to deviate from that formula when they take on Fort Bend Ridge Point (31-4) in Game 1 of a best-of-three 3-6A baseball series. which begins at 7 p.m. Thursday night at the University of Houston.

Game 2 is also scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at UH, and a third game, if needed, would be 7 p.m. Saturday at UH.

Playing fundamental baseball and creating chances has been the Oilers’ calling card in their run to the region’s semifinals.

However, if there is consistency to be found in the Oilers, it is in the pitching staff.

Pearland hasn’t allowed more than three runs in their last 17 games and allowed no more than two runs in their last seven games.

Most of the attention is directed to left-handed starting pitchers Mark Zapata and Caden Ferraro, but Rogers is quick to note that the Oilers staff doesn’t start and end with that duo.

“We were very lucky to have a lot of success on the mound,” Rogers said.

“Mark, Caden, Jake Mader-Cooper, Cayden Schmidt, Josh Graf and Danny Ontiveros all came out and did a great job for us.

“Our guys compete really well on the mound and challenge each other. They are very talented young men, and we just try to guide them with a game plan.

This focus was no more evident than in last week’s series opener against Clear Creek.

The teams were tied 2-2 at the end of the seventh, and Clear Creek immediately put the first batter – and the potential winning run – at third base.

“With nobody out, we felt compelled to create a situation where we had a home strength game,” Rogers said.

“We intentionally walked the next two guys, then we have a pop-up.”

Pearland pitcher Mader-Cooper then fanned the next two batters, the Oilers steered clear of defeat and then cruised to a 3-2 victory in nine innings.

“Having Mader-Cooper in there…he has good speed, over 80, so we thought it was a good game. If they put it in play or hit the ball outfield, then you don’t look so smart.

“We thought if they hit a ball to the outfield, a run would score. We were lucky that it turned out in our favor. »

Pearland fanned 17 batters in the nine-inning affair, then retired 13 batters from Creek the following day.

With 30 of Clear Creek’s 48 strikeouts being strikeouts in two games, scoring opportunities were greatly minimized for the Wildcats.

“You have to give the players credit,” Rogers said. “They made it happen.”

With each successive round, the mission gets tougher for playoff teams, and this week will be no exception.

This is the stage last year where the Oilers were eliminated by Jersey Village.

“We don’t hit like I want us to hit, like a playoff team should,” Rogers said, “but it’s a tribute to other teams’ pitchers.

“I will say we’ve been through some good times but we’re still leaving a little too many runners on base for my liking.

“However, when you’re in the third or fourth round, you have to expect that.”

Rogers says this is where mental toughness is required.

“You have to navigate through certain parts of the game without getting too frustrated,” he said.

“You have to play all seven innings and then some to win these games.”

The winner of the Pearland-Ridge Point series will face the winner of the Katy-Strake Jesuit series.

It should come as no surprise to Rogers that Strake Jesuit, runner-up to Pearland in the 23-6A district standings, made it to this stage of the playoffs.

“The last two years it’s been that way,” Rogers said.

“A lot of people say our district isn’t that hard because of the Alief schools, and I don’t believe it.

“Alief schools usually have a pitcher who is pretty good.

“Then when we get into Alvin, Strake Jesuit, Dawson and Shadow Creek, they all have playoff caliber arms that we have to deal with.

“In our district format, you play the same team back to back, so you’re going to see a quality arm and a quality reliever arm.

“It helped Strake and us this year, and I think it helped Alvin last year.”

Ridge Point, too, is hot.

The Panthers have won 26 of their last 28 games producing an impressive record.

“First of all, it starts in their dugout,” Rogers said.

“Coach (Clint) Welch is legendary, he’s smart, their team is well trained and they won’t go out of their game plan.

“To me, it’s an old-school, old-school baseball game.”

Because Pearland’s hitting isn’t always his base, the Oilers had to be shrewd in making runs.

“We stole over 100 bags this year for the second year in a row,” Rogers said.

“We like to try to get the runners moving, but it will be different this week because Ridge Point’s receiver is really good.

“I think both teams will kind of have a similar plan. I think they’ll try to get the runners on and see how it goes, and we’ll do the same.

“As you’d expect, races are hard to get this late in the season, but it’s always good to be in the fourth round.”

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