(Weslaco, Texas)-With bases loaded, Weslaco freshmen pitcher Diego Castillo, did three things on Thursday night. First, he stopped San Antonio O’Connor’s rally in the top of the 8th inning as a relief pitcher, and then had a single base hit, and third, he scored the winning run on a passed ball in the bottom of the 8th to give the 32-6A Weslaco Panthers (22-10-3) a 2-1 victory in Game One of the Best-of-Three series in the Class 6A Region IV Area Baseball Championships. The series will now move to San Antonio, Texas on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Northside Complex for Game Two. “We just need one win in San Antonio to close out this series,” said Weslaco HS head baseball coach, Eddie Serna. “I’m just so proud of this team. And that’s what we do. We win for this team.”

Castillo took over for then-relief pitcher, Julian Casares in the 8th inning, after senior starting pitcher Alex “Xando” Castillo (6’2 190lbs) had an outstanding night on the mound with 82 pitches. O’Connor pitcher, Miguel Bustamante ignited the top of the 8th inning with a hit off Casares. Rattled, Casares then walked Javier Rosales. Weslaco HS head coach Serna (446 career wins) called timeout and called on No.9 to take the mound. The freshmen.

Castillo forced a pop-up bunt and then struck out Aaron Olivas from 29-6A O’Connor to make it two-outs. The next batter was walked to load the bases but Castillo forced the next out to end the O’Connor Panthers rally. “We had our chances,” said O’Connor head coach, Weston Heiligan. “We left too many runners stranded tonight.”

The winner from this series will meet 32-6A Brownsville Rivera or 30-6A Eagle Pass in the 6A Region IV Baseball Quarterfinals next weekend. Pictured is Serna with senior pitcher Castillo on the mound. (HSSMIMages)