As of Friday, May 3, 2013
SHINER - Stitched on the back of each hat worn by members of Faith Academy's baseball team is a Bible chapter and verse: Proverbs 27:19.
The note points to a verse about character, a reminder about putting your best foot forward even when things look their bleakest.
Thursday night, when it looked like all was lost, the team did just that. And it paid off in a big way.
Trailing by eight runs in the bottom of the seventh, the Cougars pulled off a five-hit, nine-run comeback to beat New Braunfels Christian 15-14 in their first playoff game.
Already down 13-5 after five innings, the Cougars' chances to win did not look realistic. But hits and errors made by New Braunfels Christian kept their TAPPS Class 1A/2A playoff chances afloat.
"I said, 'Guys, I know what the scoreboard says, but in our minds right now, it's zero to zero,'" said Cougars' coach Jason Driver. "I told my guys when we start a race, we finish a course."
It was still an uphill battle, especially in the early going.
Freshman pitcher Lilo Garza started for the Cougars, but it was not his night. He was relieved after 42/3 innings, allowing 12 runs off 12 hits.
But it wasn't the last for Garza, who played a key role in the seventh-inning rally by reaching base on an error with the tying run on the play.
"I was rough today," said Garza. "I was hoping, 'Don't be the last out.'"
New Braunfels coach Fred Zinkgraf said he hoped his team would overcome the poor conditions. After scoring five runs in the second and fifth innings, the team looked to have the game at hand.
"If you have big innings, that's great. ... But we allowed them to do that," said Zinkgraf. "The game should have been over, but we allowed them to take control. They had a great comeback; I have to give them credit for that."
After senior second basemen Geoffrey Graff made the second out in the seventh for Faith Academy, senior shortstop Mario Garcia singled to the left, followed by doubles by Jake Garcia and Craig Hogan.
Eight runs later, third baseman Joe Rodriguez capped off the comeback with a single to center to drive in the winning run and earn the Cougars a trip to the regional round against Brazosport Christian.
"The momentum changed," said Driver about the last two innings. "When momentum changes like that in a ballgame, the players just stick with it."
Faith Academy 15, New Braunfels Christian 14
NBC 051 251 0 - 14 15 3
FA 011 301 9 - 15 11 2
Highlights: Faith Academy, Joe Rodriguez 2 for 4 2 RBI, Craig Hogan 3 for 3 RBI, 2B, 3B.