Cowboys hand Chargers first loss in district play, stay in title chase

Porter Cowboy pitcher Omar Banda (2) pitches the ball Friday night against Veterans memorial Chargers in Brownsville. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

BROWNSVILLE — The Brownsville Porter Cowboys dealt the Brownsville Veterans Chargers their first defeat in District 32-5A play with a 7-2 victory Friday at Brownsville Veterans High School.

The first-place Chargers (22-3-2, 15-1) have already clinched at least a share of the district title, but the Cowboys (16-5-1, 13-3) win keeps them alive in the 32-5A race with two games left to play. The Chargers took Game 1 against Porter 3-1 in extra innings on Tuesday to force the split.

“We told them last time it’s about them wanting it. It’s not about hoping to win the game, it’s about believing that they can win the game,” Porter head coach Oscar Cortez said. “I think they came with a different attitude today, hitting the ball offensively. We struggled hitting the ball Tuesday, but we hit the ball a lot better and today it was a good offensive game for us.”

Porter Cowboy Lindolfo Aguirre (10) prepares to slide to home base and score against Veterans Memorial Chargers Friday night in Brownsville. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Porter surged in front with a three-run third inning after loading the bases twice during the frame. Omar Banda brought in the first run with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Lindolfo Aguirre. Diego Rivera followed with a two-run single to left field to bring Raul Hernandez and Emilio Salazar for a 3-0 lead.

The Cowboys scored another run on an error during the fourth before Brownsville Veterans’ Jose Jimenez hit a two-run single to right field in the bottom of the inning for the Chargers’ only runs of the game.

Veterans Memorial Charger Jose Jimenez (21) hits the ball Friday night against Porter Cowboys. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Porter plated three more runs on a passed ball in the sixth and RBI singles from Rivera and Angel Cortez.

Banda earned the win for the Cowboys with 5.2 innings of work, allowing two earned runs off five hits and five walks while striking out five. Cortez closed the game with 1 1/3 inning, one hit and one strikeout.

“We came out the way I expected us to come out. After that loss on Tuesday, it definitely stuck with us the whole week,” Banda said. “It was all we were thinking about, getting our get back. I love how we came out, started in the first and came out with the win.”

The Cowboys wrap up district play with a series against Donna North beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Donna.

Next for the Chargers is two games against Harlingen South beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Brownsville. The Chargers can claim the 32-5A championship outright with one win over their next two games.

Porter and South both remain in the hunt for the 32-5A title two games back of Brownsville Veterans. If Porter and South win their final two games, there would be a three-way tie for the district championship.

“We still have to work on some things,” Coach Cortez said. “We lost our No. 1 pitcher in Bryan Galvan — he went 7-0 with only one earned run in 50 innings, so that’s going to be a tough loss. We need to come back, work on certain stuff so we can get on track heading into the playoffs.”