High School Baseball: Tuloso-Midway tops Alice to advance to first regional semifinal

Rey Castillo
Corpus Christi Caller Times

SAN ANTONIO –– Luis Rios has been waiting since the start of the season to pitch deep in the postseason. 

But the Tuloso-Midway baseball program has waited its entire existence.

Rios and the Warriors continued their historic season by capturing a 3-1 win against Alice in a one-game regional quarterfinal playoff at San Antonio Northside Gustafson Field.

T-M (22-14) advanced to its first regional semifinal to play the winner of the Sinton-Sweeny series at time, date and location to be announced later. 

"It means a lot," Rios said. "We had a lot of doubters at the start of the season and nobody really believed in us. It feels good to do what we've been planning all season. We've been working since the fall and this is what we've dreamed of and aspired to be as a program. It's going to set the tone for the future."

Tuloso-Midway's Luis Rios prepares to pitch against Alice, Friday, May 21, 2021, at Gustafon-Northside Stadium in San Antonio. Tuloso-Midway won, 3-1.

Rios knew whatever happened after last week's area round series win against Somerset, history was going to be rewritten for the Tuloso-Midway baseball team.

Rios set the tone in the Warriors' first regional quarterfinal game by striking out three and pitching around multiple leadoff hits in a complete game effort against the Coyotes. 

"They (Alice) have very aggressive hitters," Rios said. "They were jumping on the fast balls, and doing everything they could. I just kept my composure, kept my cool and trusted my teammates. We had huge plays from all around, and it gave me that confidence to push through.

"These are the games I've dreamed of pitching in since I was 5-6 years old," Rios added. "This is as good as it gets. I knew what I had to do with the task at hand. I just had to go out and do it."

Alice faces Tuloso-Midway in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals, Friday, May 21, 2021, at Gustafon-Northside Stadium in San Antonio. Tuloso-Midway won, 3-1.

The Warriors only managed four hits, but were able to push across runs when it counted. 

Jorge Garza took advantage of an Alice error by scoring the game's first run in the third inning and T-M added another in the fifth when Johnny Hererra drew a bases loaded walk. 

Rios helped himself out by adding an RBI single in the sixth to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead. 

"It means a lot to the kids and first and foremost I want to thank them, their parents and my coaching staff," said Tuloso-Midway coach Todd Akers. "Without the community and everybody this kind of stuff doesn't happen. My kids practice hard and they work hard."

The Coyotes (18-16) had a chance to tie the game in the fourth inning when Isai Campos led off the inning with a double. RJ Carrillo hit a sacrifice bunt to move Campos and Matthew Molina attempted a suicide squeeze but Campos was thrown out at home on a heads up play by Rios. 

Alice faces Tuloso-Midway in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals, Friday, May 21, 2021, at Gustafon-Northside Stadium in San Antonio. Tuloso-Midway won, 3-1.

Alice led off the fifth inning with another hit but was unable to bring the runner home. The Coyotes scored their only run in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Molina to make it a 3-1 game.

Rios retired the next four Alice batters to secure the win. 

"We wish we could have rode this out as long as we possibly could," said Alice coach Nick Alvarado. "I think the kids were ready to play and they were prepared. We walked nine and that hurt, but they never stopped battling. They realized what was at stake, and I'm super proud of their effort and their commitment to the coaches and each other. That's baseball."

CLASS 4A REGIONAL QUARTERFINAL

ONE-GAME PLAYOFF

TULOSO-MIDWAY 3, ALICE 1

What this game means: The Warriors advance to their first regional semifinal in program history to play either Sinton or Sweeny. It was the fifth consecutive win for the Warriors, who are now 5-0 this postseason. Alice had its best season since 2009 come to close. The Coyotes suffered their first defeat since May when they lost to T-M in the regular season finale. Alice concludes its year at 18-16. 

Friday's highlights: T-M Starter Luis Rios struck out three in seven innings of workJorge Garza scored the game's first run in the third inning and the Warriors added another run in the fifth inning on a bases loaded walk by Johnny Hererra. Rios added an RBI single in the sixth inning to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead. The Coyotes' lone run on a sacrifice fly by Matthew Molina.

Friday's stars: Rios struck out three in seven innings and added an RBI single in the sixth inning. Cristian Benavides, Garza, Rios and Hererra all had hits for T-M. Alice starter Cash Benavidez pitched 4.1 innings, allowing one run, striking out one and walking five. Isai Campos replaced Benavidez and threw 64 pitches in 2.2 innings. Campos allowed one run, struck out one and walked four. Campos had two of the Coyotes six hits to lead the team offensively. Molina had the lone RBI with a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Jacob Guzman, Kaleb Aguilar, Tristan Resendez and Benavidez all had hits for Alice. 

Next: Tuloso-Midway vs. Sinton/Sweeny in a Class 5A regional semifinal series, TBA.