July 17th, 2014
Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Alex Howe turned to baseball at the age of 6. Coming from Unanderra, Australia, Howe played the game throughout his childhood and high school years. He eventually got good enough to make it to Clarendon College in Texas and caught the eye of UTPA Head Baseball Coach Manny Mantrana. The rest is history.
Howe has played for the Broncs since 2013 and finished his college career in May. Coming to a Division l school brought a lot of changes for him. Half way around the world and his first season he hit .378 with nine triples, 14 doubles and 16 strikeouts in 180 at bats.
With the help of Mantrana and the rest of the coaching staff, he continued to grow as a baseball player and became one of the best players in recent Bronc history.
“It has been a pleasure and privilege to coach (Howe),” Mantrana said. “He has brought a lot of energy and passion to our baseball program along with great leadership and character.”
For most of his time with the Broncs, Howe played right field position. However, he’d grown up as a catcher and was eventually allowed to play that position in his final 22 games. Previously, he played outfield for a total of 35 games.
Now the 5-foot-7 catcher is through with his time at UTPA, leaving behind a legacy as one of the offensive leaders in the 2014 season as he led the Broncs in every major offensive category.
Howe ranked second in the Western Athletic Conference with 18 doubles, was third in on-base percentage at .451, a slugging percentage of .544 and total bases at 112. He was also fourth in hitting at .345 and ninth in home runs at five.
Although Howe has done much for the Broncs, he is looking forward to a break.
“Life is good,” he said. “I am looking forward to graduating in August and heading home after a little holiday. It’s been an amazing experience over the last four years. But I’m so anxious and it’s hard to stay focused on school. Probably the most I’m looking forward to is just being closer to my family.”
As Howe thinks of home and HIS priorities for the future, he is also looking forward to playing for the American Baseball League, which ironically is in Australia. There, he will be with the Sydney Blue Sox on their 35-man roster.He has also applied for the New South Wales Police Force back home.
As he looks toward tomorrow, the Bronc veteran reminisces on his time at UTPA and all he has accomplished with his team.
“It’s bittersweet,” Howe said. “I’m looking forward to going home more than anything, but that also means saying goodbye to my brothers here. I have made some lifelong friendships. I have been under the best guidance here at Pan Am with Mantrana and (Assistant Coach Norberto) Lopez.”
The coaching staff at UTPA, according to Howe, has made him a better player and Mantrana has faith in his former star.
“Alex has his priorities in order and played baseball for all the right reasons,” Mantrana said. “I’m very proud of him and very thankful for everything he has done for our baseball program. We will miss him.”
Through the years, Howe has moved positions, won awards and has even been passed by on the Major League Draft, but the UTPA catcher is still moving forward. Because of all Howe has faced at the University, Mantrana has the utmost confidence that Howe will do well. For Mantrana, saying goodbye only means his former player is moving on.
“It is always bittersweet when your seniors conclude their playing careers, knowing they will never wear the Bronc uniform again,” Mantrana said. “On the other hand you have seen their development from boys to men and know that they will soon become husbands and fathers. So it is definitely bittersweet.”
July 17th, 2014
Edgar Cordon R-Fr.1B
Dillon Engelhart Sr. UT
Andy Fortuna Sr. OF
Alex Howe Sr. OF/C
Bryan Ramirez So. 2B
Bryant Stites R-Fr.OF
Sam Street Sr. SP
Jesus Garcia Jr. SS
Andrew Padron Fr. RP
Alex Majewski Fr. F
Shawnte’ Goff Fr. G
Cherrell Price Jr. F
Chris Felix Jr.
Richard Hinchey Fr.
Ben Maskus Fr.
Ashley Garcia Jr.
Melissa Bernal Jr. Jr.
Joseph Bishop So.
Ricardo Hopker Sr.
Sebastien Job Sr.
Juan Cruz Soria Fr.
Wanda Beguelin Sr.
Didi Fatchikova So.
Christel Amsallem So.
Mariana Ranzahuer Fr.
Katia Stavroulaki Fr.
Men’s Outdoor Track & Field
Martin Casse Gr. Distance
Dijan Johnson Sr. Hurdles
Edgar Moreno Sr. Sprints
Antonio Gonzalez So. Jumps
Women’s Outdoor Track & Field
Tania Fabian Sr. Distance
Chelsea Luna Jr. Throws
Melissa Rodriguez Sr. Sprints
Kari Williams Jr. Sprints
Alyssa Canual Fr. Throws
Corynn Acuff Fr. MB
Shanice Faison Jr. DS/L
Alisha Watson Fr. OH
July 1st, 2014
The UTPA baseball team has signed Correy Davis to a National Letter of Intent for the 2014-15 academic year June 16.
The Aubrey, TX native is coming to the Rio Grande Valley as a junior having previously played two seasons with the New Mexico Military Institute Broncos. While at NMMI Davis primarily played in the first baseman’s position for both seasons.
While at NMMI he held a .375 batting average, with 17 doubles, 48 runs scored, three triples and 42 RIB with three home runs. Davis also comes to the Broncs with 13 stolen bases, surpassing UTPA senior Alex Howe. He held the team record for the 2014 season for the most stolen bases standing at 12.
He has improved his performance since his freshman year at NMMI, originally hitting .261 with five doubles, three triples and one home run to his name. He had a 31 RBI, 21 runs scored and nine stolen bases.
“Correy is a terrific young man who also happens to be an excellent baseball player,” Head Baseball Coach Manny Mantrana said. “(He) is a middle of the line-up type…who can really hit. His baseball abilities and character will be a great asset to our team.”
June 19th, 2014
- Sep 10, 2013 Cross country runner Luis Serrano was named WAC Cross Country Athlete of the Week Oct. 10 and Sept. 10.
- October 16, 2013 Cross country runners Martin Casse and Robin Galloso were named WAC Cross Country Athletes of the Week Oct. 16.
- January 20, 2014 Men’s basketball guard Shaquille Boga earned WAC Player of the Week, Jan. 20.
- January 21, 2014 Women’s tennis player Wanda Beguelin was chosen as WAC Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Week for Jan. 13.
- February 4, 2014 Men’s track and field graduate student Martin Casse was named WAC Track and Field Athlete of the Week Feb. 4 and Feb. 11.
- February 17, 2014 Men’s basketball guard Javorn Farrell is the WAC Player of the Week, Feb. 17.
- February 24, 2014 Baseball senior outfielder Alex Howe and senior pitcher Sam Street are the WAC Hitter and Pitcher of the Week, Feb. 24.
- February 25, 2014 Women’s tennis player Didi Fatchikova was named WAC Tennis Athlete of the Week Feb. 25.
- March 3, 2014 Women’s basketball guard Shawnte’ Goff earned Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Player of the Week, March 3.
- March 3, 2014 Baseball pitcher Sam Street earned WAC Pitcher of the Week, March 3.
- March 4, 2014 Men’s golfer Mathew Charles has been named Western Athletic Conference Golfer of the Week March 4.
- March 4, 2014 Men’s tennis player Juan Cruz Soria has been named Western Athletic Conference Tennis Athlete of the Week, March 4.
- March 18, 2014 Women’s track and field junior Jasmine Davison has been named WAC Track and Field Athlete of the Week, March 18.
- March 25, 2014 Women’s track and field junior Leocajuan Williams has been named WAC Track and Field Athlete of the Week, March 25. Athlete
- April 7, 2014 Baseball senior pitcher Sam Street has earned his third WAC Pitcher of the Week award, April 7.
- April 14, 2014 Baseball second baseman Bryan Ramirez is the WAC Hitter of the Week, April 14.
- April 22, 2014 Men’s track and field runner Martin Casse was named WAC Track and Field Athlete of the Week, April 22.
- April 28, 2014 Baseball junior right-hander Blake English is the WAC Pitcher of the Week.
- April 29, 2014 Women’s track and field junior Deandra Barroso has been named WAC Track and Field Athlete of the Week.
- May 5, 2014 Baseball senior catcher Alex Howe is the WAC Hitter of the Week.
- May 6, 2014 Men’s track and field graduate student Martin Casse has been named WAC Track and Field Athlete of the Week.
- May 12, 2014 Baseball junior right-hander Blake English is the WAC Pitcher of the Week.
- May 19, 2014 Baseball senior pitcher Sam Street has earned his fourth WAC Pitcher of the Week award.
Each of the student athletes above were named Wac Athletes of the Week for their respective months under their respective sports by the Western Athletic Conference. Each player excelled and succeeded in standing out from from their conference peers and were selected for their exceptional performances for that select week.
May 19th, 2014
The Broncs Baseball Team is currently seeded second in the Western Athletic Conference. The team took a sweep in their last three game series against Northern Colorado University in Greenly, Colo. May 16-18.
With the three wins against NCU under their belt the Broncs have ended the regular season with a six game sweep. In addition they have won their past six conference series in a row. Most recently they took the win against the top WAC contender, the Sacramento State Hornets, 2-1 May 9-11.
“The guys have been really playing better each and every weekend,” Head Coach Manny Mantrana said. “We are heading in a good direction into the WAC tournament. We’re playing better, pitching better.”
According to Mantrana, if the Broncs win the WAC Conference Tournament they automatically qualify for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Post Season Regionals. This is the first year in all of UTPA history that the Broncs will have a shot at the NCAA Postseason.
“They have earned it,” Mantrana said. “This group has worked hard in the past with no rewards at the end. Now there is a reward…and I am happy for our seniors. They are finally going to be able to experience what it feels like to really be part of a real conference”
The UTPA team has a total of 13 senior players including Sam Street, Alex Howe, Alberto Morales and Andy Fortuna. They are several of the most recognized players of the season. According to Fortuna, he and his fellow seniors have been waiting a long time to have the chance at the postseason.
“It is awesome to actually be playing for something,” Fortuna said. “The last three years I’ve been here, we did not have any automatic bids. So even if we won the Great west tournament, it didn’t really mean anything. But (having a chance at) postseason play is something that as an athlete, it’s what you look forward to.”
The seniors and Mantrana claim they do have a lot of work ahead of them but plan to do well in their last series and possibly sweep Conference. If they do win the tournament they will head off to the Super Regionals and possibly the College World Series. The last time the University made an appearance at the world series was in 1971, when Hall of Famer Al Ogletree coached the Broncs.
Currently the Broncs conference record is 17-10 and with their series sweep against NCU the Broncs are starting their first WAC Conference Tournament on the right foot.
“We are peaking at the right moment right now,” Fortuna said. “We are playing great as a team and we are doing exactly, what we need to be doing.”
May 13th, 2014
One double header and 18 innings in the 100 degree heat had the Bronc baseball team striving for every strikeout and hit. But May 11 senior outfielder Andy Fortuna hit his first career home run during the final at bat of the series against the Sacramento State Hornets. The home run took the Broncs to a score of 2-0, taking the win against the Hornets at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium.
The Broncs played the Hornets May 9-11. They took a loss during the first game of the series. Originally the game was scheduled May 9 but was cut short due to weather, forcing the team to play a doubleheader May 10.
The Broncs were ahead 1-0, at the end of third but the Hornets took the lead. They scored three runs in the seventh, bringing UTPA pitcher, Sam Street his first and only loss in a year.
Despite the loss, Street remains optimistic. They have time to complete one more series and they are ready to finish out the season.
“Right now we are just looking forward to our last Western Athletic Conference tournament,” Street said. “That’s the next thing on the mind…fun times ahead.”
With the loss behind them, the Broncs completed their doubleheader May 10. Blake English, junior pitcher, took the mound in place of Street. English pitched a shutout, allowing only four hits, leading the Broncs to a decisive victory over the Hornets in the second game of the series, 2-0. English retired eight batters before hitting one and allowing for a walk to first. He retired another nine batters until the Hornets bunted the ball in the seventh.
The Broncs were then tied during the series 1-1, but Street knew he and his teammates could finish up the rest of the series.
“This just shows the group of guys we got,” Street said. “It is really exciting going forward into the postseason, (it goes to show) how successful we could be and I think we will be.”
Finally on senior night, May 11, the Broncs walked onto the field for their last home game of the series and season. Facing off against the Hornets for the last time made the game a back and forth stalemate, neither team allowing for any major plays to be made.
But in the ninth inning everything changed. Fortuna was up at bat, two Broncs before him had struck out and he was the last. After two balls and a miss, Fortuna swung high and left hitting his first home run of his career.
The game ended with a score of 2-0, for the Broncs. The crowd and the team went wild as Fortuna did a slow jog toward third base, losing his helmet in the process and meeting his teammates who waited for him at the home plate.
“It couldn’t have come at a better moment,” Fortuna said. “Bottom of the ninth, no runs. We needed it, we were already tired and for it to come at the moment was perfect.”
Though talent and hard work can’t be discounted, according to Fortuna, something else was at play. The team pulled out all the stops for their last home game and used all of their supernatural arsenal, all in the name of luck.
“We tried everything,” Fortuna said. “The water hose, we tried waking up the bats, we tried the worms, we tried changing our secret spots. We pulled out everything this game and sometimes that is what you have to do.”
In addition to the teams rituals, Fortuna, said he was using infielder Brian Ramirez’s bat, whose batting average is at .262 with a season total of 172 run batted ins.
“I give credit to his pop,” Fortuna said. “The ball just jumped off the bat and kept going.”
The Broncs have only one more series, facing off against Northern Colorado University in Greenly, Col. May 16. They will then head off to the WAC Tournament Championships and represent UTPA in Meza, Ariz. May 21-25.
April 24th, 2014
After a three-game stretch, the Broncs won the series against the University of California Bakersfield Roadrunners 2-1 at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium April 17-19.
Game one was a thriller, as freshman Blake Thomas hit a walk-off, two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The Broncs won 2-1.
In the ninth inning Jesus Garcia led off with what seemed to be an easy fly out to right field. An error by Bakersfield’s Chance Gusbeth led to Garcia getting on base. As the inning progressed, Thomas found himself walking up to the plate with the bases loaded. As the count added up with two balls and one strike, Thomas hit a ball over Roadrunner centerfielder Jordie Hein to end the game.
The victory made senior pitcher Sam Street 9-0. With his ninth victory Street is tied for the lead in wins in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Street also pitched his seventh complete game, which leads the NCAA, as he struck out three, did not walk anyone, allowed five hits and retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced.
Head Coach Manny Mantrana knows that it helps his team and its defense when his pitchers can go complete games.
“It’s always a plus when your starting pitchers take you deep into games,” Mantrana said. “It shows that they are competing well and are giving our team a chance to win.”
The Broncs continued the series April 18 in the evening and lost 3-2 as the Roadrunners tied the series at one game apiece.
Junior pitcher Blake English threw eight innings, allowed three total runs on five hits, and struck out four batters in the loss.
The Broncs led the Roadrunners early as senior Alex Howe started off with a double and following was Bryan Ramirez, a PSJA alumnus who hit an RBI double to give them the 1-0 edge. The team continued to lead until the Roadrunners scored in the third. The Broncs answered with a run of their own.
In the fifth inning, the Roadrunners took the lead again and added on to it in the seventh. Bakersfield’s Ross Hough advanced to third off a single from Heins. As Hough prepared to beat the throw to third the ball got away from third baseman Alberto Morales which allowed Hough to score and make the count 3-1.
The Broncs regrouped as they defeated Bakersfield 5-1 on the final day and took a 2-1 series victory, their third straight Western Athletic Conference series win.
UTPA started the game behind early as the Roadrunners led 1-0 in the second inning. Then pitcher Alex Henson settled down, as he had a career-high in innings pitch with 8.1. Henson allowed five hits, five walks and struck out three.
“I didn’t have my best stuff today,” Henson said. “But I made good pitches when I needed to and our defense backed me up pretty well. I don’t worry, we have a really good team and we really seem to rally. We could be down seven to nothing and still come out on top, that’s what good teams do.”
It took the Broncs six innings before their bats started to come alive, as they scored four runs. Junior and Edinburg High School alumnus Lee Rios started the inning with a walk, followed by Morales. The runners advanced as Jesus Garcia laid down a bunt, where Bakersfield Allen Gwynn charged the ball and threw wildly to third, allowing Rios to score and tie the game.
As the sixth inning progressed senior Shane Ammon hit an RBI single, followed by Andy Fortuna’s two RBI on a single to put the Broncs up 4-1.
Henson started the ninth inning as he got one batter to fly out, but after he walked the next batter, Mantrana came out to the mound and brought in freshman and Nikki Rowe alumnus Andrew Padron, who retired the final two batters of the game.
“(Padron) is really good freshman,” Henson said. “He is a guy you really need to be watching because in a couple years he is going to be really good. I knew as soon as I handed him the ball he was going to get the job done and finish the game.”
The next match for the Broncs was a rematch against No. 10 Texas at the University Federal Credit Union Disch-Falk Field in Austin; it was televised April 22 on the Longhorn Network. The Broncs started strong but fell to the Longhorns 5-4.
“Playing a very good team like Texas is always a positive. Our players must compete at a high level and teams like Texas are the ones that we have to play and beat in post-season play,” Mantrana said. “You always want to play teams that are just as good or better then you are. That is what competing is really about.”
The Broncs are now 17-25 overall, 7-8 in conference action. Their next series starts April 25-27 against the Chicago State University cougars at Cougar Stadium.
March 27th, 2014
The Broncs baseball team faced off against the New Mexico State University Aggies at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium March 21-23. The Broncs played three games against the Aggies to start their career in the Western Athletic Conference, winning only one game.
Alex Henson, starting pitcher in game two of the series, knows all too well how a team such as the Aggies can benefit when the opposing team struggles. This is what helped them take two out of the three games.
“They are pretty good,” said Henson, a junior from Evansville, Ind. “You can’t go in there throwing balls and walking people because good teams are going to capitalize on that and that’s what they did.”
This series of games was the first WAC action for the University. Currently, the Broncs stand at 11-15 overall and started the league season on a high note, beating the Aggies 9-4 March 21. Although it was a win, it started slowly. In the first three innings, the Broncs did not get a single hit versus starting pitcher Christopher Bradley.
However, the pace quickened as UTPA sophomore Bryan Ramirez and freshman Victor Garcia Jr. hit back-to-back doubles in the fourth. Later, infielder Jesus Garcia hit a grounder to put the Broncs 2-0.
The Broncs took the win and outfielder Alex Howe attributed the result to the team’s drive.
“Our defense all year has been really solid,” said Howe, a senior from Australia. “We’ve missed plays, but that’s okay. The guys played hard the whole time and even when we were down, we came back.”
The team continued the pace against New Mexico State in the fifth inning, once again turning the tables on the Aggies as freshman Blake Thomas grounded out, allowing senior Alberto Morales to run in for a score. While running in, Morales knocked the ball out of the catcher’s mitt, and senior Dillon Engelhart also scored. Shortly after the surprise run by Engelhart, junior Evan Mason and Howe provided hits as the score inflated to 9-4.
This was not repeated in game two of the series. Despite a powerful showing from Howe, who hit two doubles and drove in three runs, the Broncs took a 7-4 loss March 22.
“This was a tough loss tonight,” said Howe, who is hitting .349 for the season with 18 RBI. “They got ahead and we weren’t able to get back. (We were) scratching and clawing to get that back but then, unfortunately, gave it up again. That’s baseball. It happens.”
The Broncs could not stop the Aggies from loading the bases in the second inning, leading to a two-run frame and a 4-0 lead for the visitor.
The Broncs then fought back as third baseman Morales hit his second home run of the season, making the score 4-1. Finally, the Broncs picked up momentum in the fourth, scoring three runs. Despite the comeback, the Broncs could not maintain the tie and lost as the Aggies fought back in the sixth, scoring three times.
With one loss on their mind, the Broncs walked into their final try against the Aggies March 23. For the last game of their first WAC series, the Broncs were out to impress. In the first inning they scored after Morales plated a run with a grounder.
The teams were at a stalemate that did not break until the sixth inning. Just then, Thomas scored a run after Ramirez and Garcia singled, but the Aggies woke in the seventh inning, scoring three runs and pushing past UTPA for the final win of 3-2.
Shortly after their final loss against the Aggies, the Broncs took a loss to Texas Christian University March 24 with a score of 11-0. After their loss the Broncs were rained out against TCU March 25, that game will not be made up but scratched from the schedule. Next, they are off to the Northwest to play against Seattle University March 28-30. The team will be on the road for two weeks and Howe knows all too well what they have in store.
“It’s pretty tough playing on the road,” he said. “We haven’t won too many games on the road yet, hopefully we can turn that around next week.”
After their trip, the Broncs return to Edinburg Stadium to play against Texas A&M Corpus Christi for a non-conference game April 2 at 6 p.m.
March 11th, 2014
Early on the UTPA Broncs baseball team has taken home a three-game winning streak against the Arlington Baptist Patriots. The game ended in a double header March 8.
The Broncs last game against the Patriots allowed for a 4-2 victory at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium. Originally, the game was meant to spread from March 7-9. But because of bad weather heading toward the Rio Grande Valley, Saturday’s game was turned into a double header, forcing the Broncs and the Patriots to play a total of 18 innings with only a 40 minute prep time in-between.
According to the Bronc third basemen, Alberto Morales, the team held together through the day. It was not easy but in the end its what they had to do.
“Anytime you get three wins on a weekend its good,” Morales said. “These (doubleheaders) are just a mental grid. You know you got to play 18 innings and you just got to grind it out. Fatigue is going to kick in but the mental side is the strong side.”
While the Broncs ended their back-to- back weekend, Kyle Tokunaga had his first start of the season against the Patriots March 8. He pitched a total of seven innings and led the team to a 5-2 game against their opponents.
“It felt pretty good,” Tokunga said. “Went out there, threw a lot of strikes, threw a lot of ground balls and that’s what you got to do when you go pitch, you got to give your team a chance to win. Getting strikes-that’s what is going to do it.”
With their noses to the grindstone, the Broncs pulled through against the Patriots but know that they still have a whole season ahead of them. With their first Weastern Athletic Conference game coming up, Morales and his team are eager to move up in the ranks of this new conference.
“We are excited for our first WAC weekend, which is coming up two weeks from now (March 21).” Morales said. “It’s exciting and we are ready to play. As a team we are just trying to win a WAC championship…first year will be a big deal for us…but that is what I am looking forward to.”
Although the Broncs ended this spring break weekend with a win they will head out on a 7 game road trip starting March 11-12. The first stop will be College Station, where they will battle it out against the Texas A&M University Aggies for the first time this season.
February 27th, 2014
Australian senior Sam Street went all nine innings in the first game of the Al Ogletree Classic Feb. 21, pitching a 1-0 victory against the Northwestern State University Demons at Edinburg Baseball Stadium. Street started the night by retiring the first 11 batters before Demons’ third baseman Chase Daughdrill singled in the fourth inning. He would then respond by not allowing another hit until the ninth. The game was part of the 10th annual Al Ogletree Classic played Feb. 21-23.
The Broncs won three games during the tournament and lost one.
“Sam (Street) is a good one,” said legendary coach Al Ogletree. “He is from Australia and we need to get a few more from down there…I’m real impressed with him, he is a great pitcher.”
Ogletree, who has been inducted into nine Hall of Fames around the state of Texas, is a Texas A&M alum who led Pan American University as coach to a 44-9 record and a fourth place finish at the College World Series of 1971. Ogltree’s record at PAU was 1,084-618-1. He retired in 1997 and UTPA honored him by naming the classic after him in 2004.
Feb. 21, Street finished the night with 11 strikeouts and the two-hitter was his ninth career complete game and fourth career shutout. Last year he was 10-3 with a 2.73 ERA, and in 2014 he is 2-0 so far. His efforts earned him Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week.
“In the last inning I kept the same thought process I’ve been thinking all night,” Street said. “At the end there I concentrated on the breaking ball a bit more.”
The Broncs got their only run in the first inning. Junior Michael Baca was on second base when senior right fielder Alex Howe stepped up to the plate and hit a two-out, RBI-single.
The Broncs would relax for the night before they were back on the field Feb. 22 against the Prairie View A&M Panthers. For the first time in 42 years and for the third time in program history, they recorded back-to-back 1-0 victories. The last time the Broncs accomplished this was against Baylor April 28-29, 1972, when Ogletree was head coach.
Blake English started the day as the first pitcher for the Broncs. English gave them their second great start as he worked eight shutout innings, allowing four hits. When English’s job was over, junior Clayton Haltom took over in the ninth inning and pitched a hitless inning.
The Broncs’ sole run came in the third inning. Bases loaded with one out, third baseman Alberto Morales was at the plate and the count was one ball and one strike. Morales took the pitch and hit a pop fly, which brought in second baseman Bryan Ramirez from third.
“Well they have been playing good,” Ogletree said. “Good defense is what it is and good defense will win you a lot of ball games.”
The game was the first of two that day the Broncs had little time to soak in the victory before losing to the Demons, 6-4.
Although action started at the top of the fourth inning, the game was decided in the ninth. Down 6-3, the Broncs started off with back-to-back singles. After an out, Howe came to plate and ripped an RBI-single to close the gap to two runs. Morales came up to the plate next and walked. The Demons brought in pitcher Adam Oller, who struck out twice to end the game.
The Broncs closed out the Al Ogletree Classic the following day as they faced the Panthers for the second time. The Broncs were able to draw a season-high 13 walks to go along with eight hits in the 9-3 victory.
It is the third time the Broncs have drawn 13 walks since Manny Mantrana became head coach in 2008, the last being April 30, 2011 against Houston Baptist.
“Any time you can play four games and go 3-1, it’s a good thing, I am proud of my team,” Mantrana said. “We came back from a rough night against Northwestern but we came back, battled back and had a good performance.”
Freshman and former Nikki Rowe athlete Andrew Padron had his first career start and allowed one run, three hits and struck out two in five innings. Through the fifth, the Broncs would dominate the game with an 8-1 score.
Howe was one home run short of the cycle on the final game of the classic as he was one of the Broncs’ six walks during their four-run, one hit fifth inning. The Australian native was also named WAC Player of the Week, but for hitting, and doing it by hitting .733 (11-for-15) with a .765 on-base percentage and .933 batting percentage to go with four RIB’s, three runs and four stolen bases.
“We can always continue to improve,” Howe said. “We need to get some more good pitches to hit and make the opponents pay for it.”
The Broncs were honored to play in front of Ogletree and even more honored that he had praise for their defense.
“UTPA baseball is Al Ogletree,” Mantrana said. “Any time he gives us a compliment we are very honored and blessed. We are just trying to rebuild what he did here and I think we have the players to do so.”
Ogletree often misses being out on the field but is honored that the tournament is now in its 10th year.
“Being with the boys is what I miss most about the game,” the Hall of Fame coach said. “You got to play hard, play smart and have fun, those are the things you need to do when you’re out there on the field.”
The Broncs are now 5-4 and will play at home March 7-9 against Arlington Baptist College. First game starts at 7 p.m. at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium.