Struggling all night long, the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio caught a spark in the bottom of the eighth inning. They scored a single run against a shaky relief pitcher to pull within two of the visiting Amarillo Sod Squad.
The Chanclas even loaded the bases with one out. They had the potential tying run at second and the go-ahead at first. But it was just a tease, as the Sod Squad turned a double play in the infield and went on to claim a 4-2 victory Thursday night at Wolff Stadium.
As a result, the Sod Squad took two out of three games in San Antonio and held on to first place in the North Division of the Texas Collegiate League. In addition, the loss for the Chanclas was also meaningful. But not in a good way.
A victory would have vaulted them into second place in the TCL South going into the final three games of the regular season. Instead, they remained in third place, one spot in the standings out of the playoffs, with three games left.
Looking on the bright side, at least they’re still in the playoff chase, which is something of a miracle in that they have now lost five of their last six.
In what is shaping up to be a wild finish, it is now a three-team race between the Round Rock Hairy Men (16-11), the Brazos Valley Bombers (15-12) and the Chanclas (14-12) for the two playoff berths out of the South Division.
Round Rock took the upper hand for the division title with a three-game series sweep over Brazos Valley, punctuated by a 3-2 victory at home Thursday night.
In the first of the final three games of the season, the Chanclas play at the Hairy Men’s home park at Dell Diamond in Round Rock on Friday. They return home to host the Hairy Men on Saturday at Wolff. Then, they return to Round Rock for the finale on Sunday.
Brazos Valley closes at home with three games against the Victoria Generals (9-18).
Holding the upper hand in the North, the Sod Squad (17-10) finishes with three at home against the Tulsa Drillers (15-11). The North race is coming down to Amarillo, second-place Frisco (15-10), Tulsa and possibly the Amarillo Sod Dogs (15-12).
San Antonio 14-12
San Antonio at Round Rock, 7:05 p.m. Friday.
Victoria Generals standout Jonathan Tapia is apparently joining the Flying Chanclas, according to a Thursday night post on Twitter from a newspaper reporter in Victoria.
Tapia, from O’Connor High School and UTSA, can play the infield or the outfield. Better yet for the Chanclas, he is the TCL’s seventh-leading hitter at .356.
The move came on the same day that the Chanclas reported that outfielder Kyte McDonald (from Antonian HS) and pitcher Riggs Threadgill (Fredericksburg) had left the team.
Both are returning to school. McDonald is on his way back to Mississippi State University, a Chanclas spokesman said, while Threadgill apparently is headed for McLennan Community College.