Chanclas’ Flores makes the most of a tough year in baseball

Flying Chanclas first baseman Ryan Flores from University of the Incarnate Word hitting his first double of the game against the Cane Cutters on Saturday, July 4, 2020, at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

Ryan Flores, who had been serving food at a barbecue restaurant in Corpus Christi earlier this spring, has batted .303 with a team-high 16 RBI for the Flying Chanclas this summer. – Photo by Joe Alexander

When the coronavirus pandemic shut down college baseball in March, Ryan Flores treated the abrupt change in his lifestyle sort of like a fastball tailing away on the outside corner — by slapping it into the opposite field for a base hit.

In other words, he made the best of a tough situation.

A little more than four months later, as Flores continues to bang out the hits to all fields, the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio are reaping the rewards, qualifying as a first-year franchise for the playoffs in the Texas Collegiate League.

On the eve of a series against the Brazos Valley Bombers, Flores said the Chanclas are thrilled just to have played in a season, let alone get the opportunity to compete in a postseason.

“I think we’re all just happy to be out playing again, because the past fourth months has been the longest we’ve all been without baseball in, like, five or six years,” he said. “So we’re just happy to be out there to try and win games.”

Flores, from Corpus Christi Carroll and the University of the Incarnate Word, has been a difference-maker.

His .303 batting average and team-leading 16 RBI in 23 games are two major reasons that the Chanclas have a chance in a best-of-3 South divisional series that starts Tuesday night at Wolff Stadium.

Naturally, he’d like to see the team win the championship to cap off what has been a crazy year for everyone on the roster.

“It would mean a lot,” Flores said. “We’re very excited to get out there and get a ring and hopefully bring back a championship to a team that was just (created) this year. Just bring it back to San Antonio, because, I know the fans enjoy coming out to the games.

“That would make me really happy if we could bring back a championship for the fans.”

In the spring, Flores’ hopes of helping UIW win a Southland Conference championship during his junior year were dashed. The season was called off after 16 games. His whole life was upended, really, because the campus was closed.

In response, Flores knew he’d need to make a plan on how to finish out his semester. How to further his career. How to make the best of it.

Flores, a practical man, decided that he would return to Corpus Christi, live at home and take his UIW classes online.

He decided he’d also work some shifts at the Salty Oak, a barbecue restaurant, to make a little extra money.

The best entree on the menu? If you ask Flores, it’s “The Big Salty.”

“It’s a two-pound sandwich with brisket, pulled pork, sausage, and cole slaw on top — just a big ‘ol sandwich,” he said. “That’s my favorite.”

So, while Flores was toiling with his UIW classes virtually and working to carry out food to curb-side customers at the Salty Oak, he was also trying to carve out enough time for baseball practice.

Working on his game was a chore, because with the pandemic, most fields were closed. He finally found one facility, known as the “Cage Nation USA,” where he’d go with friends to tinker with his craft.

Given his erratic workout schedule during the spring, it’s surprising in a way that he became such an offensive force with the Chanclas this summer. How did he do it?

“I’m not really sure,” Flores said. “I guess I’ve always been a good hitter, wherever I’m at. The way (Chanclas players) expected it to be, all the hitters were going to be behind, because all the pitchers were going to be able to throw during quarantine, while we hadn’t seen any live pitching or anything.

“It took a few games to get into it. But after awhile, I started getting my timing down and started getting back into rhythm. Started doing well.”

In watching Flores, it’s easy to see that he has worked hard at his game for some time. A left-handed hitter, his bat whips around swiftly and smoothly on a slightly upward arc.

He can jerk the ball to right field, but he also knows how to shoot line drives down the third-base line, a skill that will come in handy in his future endeavors.

Flores said he really felt like he started to make rapid improvements as a hitter when he arrived at UIW in 2017.

“My freshman year of college, is when I started getting better, (using) my legs and staying through the ball, rather than pulling off of everything,” he said. “It’s really been the last few years that I started to know myself as a hitter.”

His ability to hit to the opposite field could help immensely on the next level. Does he want to play pro ball? You bet, he does.

“I really think about it every day, honestly,” Flores said. “It’s the main goal for me. I’ve been dreaming about that since I was three or four years old.

“It’s just crazy that I’ve had those same dreams the past 15 or 16 years of wanting to play professional baseball, and how close I’m getting to it … I’m really hoping to get picked up by somebody.”

In the meantime, the Chanclas’ RBI leader would love to make something happen this week, for the fans and for his teammates, particularly against Brazos Valley.

The Bombers handcuffed Chanclas hitters in winning three straight games in Bryan a little more than a week ago.

“We’re just trying to redeem ourselves after that last not-so-lucky trip,” Flores said. “So we’re getting really prepared. We had practice (Monday). We’re really excited to get out there and play them again.”

Records

Brazos Valley (19-11)
San Antonio (16-12)

Playoff schedule

Here is the TCL playoff schedule as spelled out in a Monday morning Twitter post from the league office:

South Division

Brazos Valley Bombers at the Flying Chanclas, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, at Wolff Stadium, San Antonio.

Flying Chanclas at Bombers, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, at Travis Field, Bryan.

(If necessary) Flying Chanclas at Bombers, 7:05 p.m., Thursday, at Travis Field, Bryan.

North Division

Amarillo Sod Squad at Tulsa Drillers, 7:05 p.m., Tuesday.

Tulsa at Amarillo, 7:05 p.m., Wednesday.

(If necessary) Tulsa at Amarillo, 7:05 p.m. Thursday.

Championship game

Teams TBA, at either Amarillo, or the South Division winner’s home ball park, 7:05 p.m., Saturday

Chanclas down Sod Squad to end skid, stay in playoff hunt

Image

Jalen Battles doubles to left-center field to drive in the Flying Chanclas' first two runs of the game in the fourth inning against the Amarillo Sod Squad on Wednesday at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jalen Battles doubles to left-center to drive in the Flying Chanclas’ first two runs in the fourth inning against the Amarillo Sod Squad. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

After losing four straight games, the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio rebounded Wednesday with a 5-1 victory over the Amarillo Sod Squad, keeping alive hopes for a spot in the Texas Collegiate League playoffs.

A crowd of 591 at Wolff Stadium watched as the Chanclas snapped out of their funk on offense with 10 hits.

They scored two runs in the fourth inning and three in the sixth to back the pitching of Marcelo Perez, Arturo Guajardo and Garrett Egli, who combined on a seven-hitter while striking out 14.

The Flying Chanclas' Johnny Hernandez scores the first run of the game on a double by Battles. - photo by Joe Alexander

Johnny Hernandez scores the first run of the game on a double by Jalen Battles. – photo by Joe Alexander

Perez, from TCU, pitched six scoreless innings, allowed four hits and struck out eight.

Offensive standouts included Jalen Battles, whose two-run double in the fourth gave the Chanclas the lead and some much-needed momentum.

Also, Kyte McDonald ignited the three-run sixth with a one-out double. Ryan Flores highlighted the uprising with an RBI single for the third run of the inning to make it 5-0.

During the four-game losing streak, the Chanclas produced only five runs on 22 hits. In that time, they batted a cool .173 as a team.

Coming into Wednesday night, they had been shut out in two of their last three games and had scored runs in only two of their past 37 innings.

The Flying Chanclas' Grant Smith scores the second run of the game on a double by Jalen Battles in the fourth inning against the Amarillo Sod Squad on Wednesday at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

Grant Smith, from first base, races around to score on Battles’ blast to make it 2-0. – photo by Joe Alexander

They finally broke through in a two-run fourth. With two outs, Johnny Hernandez singled, Grant Smith walked and Battles drove both of them home with a two-run double off Amarillo starter Jared Lyons.

In the sixth, a walk and then a double off the bat of McDonald set up another big inning, putting runners at second and third with one out.

The Chanclas scored on Smith’s sacrifice fly, a wild pitch and a run-scoring single by Flores, the team’s RBI leader.

Runs-hits-errors

Amarillo — 1 7 0
San Antonio — 5 10 0
Please click on a link here to see Wednesday night’s box score.

Records

Amarillo 16-10
San Antonio 14-11
Please click on a link here to see the TCL standings after Wednesday night’s games.

Coming up

Amarillo at San Antonio, 7:05 p.m. Thursday. Next, three games vs. Round Rock. San Antonio at Round Rock, 7:05 p.m. Friday. Round Rock at San Antonio, 7:05 p.m. Saturday. San Antonio at Round Rock, 7:05 p.m. Sunday. (End of regular season).

Playoff races

In the TCL, two teams from each division qualify for the playoffs. With four days left in the regular season, eight teams remain alive — four in the South and four in the North.

In the South, Round Rock and Brazos Valley (both 15-11) are tied for first, followed by the Chanclas (14-11) and the Acadiana Cane Cutters (11-13). Round Rock tightened the race Wednesday with a 5-0 victory at home over Brazos Valley.

The North is also a four-team race featuring the Sod Squad (16-10), the Tulsa Drillers (15-10), Frisco RoughRiders (14-10) and the Amarillo Sod Dogs (14-12). Tulsa beat the Sod Dogs 5-3 on the road in Amarillo.

Flying Chanclas starting pitcher Marcelo Perez went six shutout innings and allowed four hits with eight strikeouts and two walks against the Amarillo Sod Squad on Wednesday at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

Flying Chanclas starting pitcher Marcelo Perez went six shutout innings and allowed four hits, with eight strikeouts and two walks. – photo by Joe Alexander

RBI machine: Chanclas’ Flores drives in three more in 4-3 victory

Ryan Flores doubled, had a sacrific flying and drove in three of the Flying Chanclas' four runs against the Brazos Valley Bombers on Thursday at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

Ryan Flores doubled, had a sacrific fly and drove in three of the Flying Chanclas’ four runs against the Brazos Valley Bombers on Thursday at Wolff Stadium. – photo by Joe Alexander

Ryan Flores produced three RBI for a team-best 15 on the season Thursday night in pacing the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio to a 4-3 victory over the Brazos Valley Bombers.

A season-high crowd of 1,521 at Wolff Stadium watched as Chanclas starter Logan Garza pitched into the sixth inning to stifle the Bombers.

With the victory, the Chanclas (13-7) gained a game in the standings against the Bombers (12-9) in a duel for the South Division title in the Texas Collegiate League.

The teams will play another three games starting Friday night in Bryan, all at Travis Field. Both teams have nine to play in the regular season.

With the Bombers playing in San Antonio, the Chanclas made the best of it, winning two of three games this week.

The Flying Chanclas' Jordan Thompson slides into third with a fifth-inning triple against the Brazos Valley Bombers on Thursday at Wolff Stadium. Thompson also walked and scored twice. - photo by Joe Alexander

The Flying Chanclas’ Jordan Thompson slides into third with a fifth-inning triple against the Brazos Valley Bombers on Thursday at Wolff Stadium. Thompson also walked and scored twice. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Brazos Valley cruised 6-1 in the opener Tuesday night to take the lead in the South by a half a game, before San Antonio turned it on with a 15-2 victory Wednesday night.

On Thursday, the Chanclas jumped out to an early lead and then held off the Bombers at the end, improving to 9-3 in their last 12 games.

In the bottom of the first inning, Flores mashed a sacrifice fly ball to center to drive in Jordan Thompson to make it 1-0. In the top of the second, the Chanclas’ defense came up big with their second double play in two innings.

When they came to bat in the bottom half, they made it 2-0 with the help of the help of the Bombers, who committed two infield errors.

Flores drove in single runs in both the fifth and the seventh. In the seventh, he hammered an opposite field drive into the left field corner that scored Thompson and made it 4-1. He was out at third trying to turn it into a triple.

Garza pitched the first five innings and Johnny Panatex entered to take care of the next three.

Garza struck out eight and allowed the only run of the game in the sixth. Panatex was particularly effective, holding the Bombers scoreless on two hits while striking out four.

The Bombers made it interesting in the ninth, scoring twice and putting runners at first and second with two out against Garrett Egli.

Grayson Tatrow, who had two hits on the night, flared one to left that looked like it had a chance to drop for a hit. But Anthony Forte raced in to make the grab for the final out.

Flying Chanclas starting pitcher Logan Garza threw five innings, allowed one run and struck out eight batters to get the win against the Brazos Valley Bombers on Thursday at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

Flying Chanclas starting pitcher Logan Garza threw five innings, allowed one run and struck out eight batters to get the win. – photo by Joe Alexander

Runs-hits-errors

Brazos Valley 3 11 2
San Antonio 4 8 1
Please click on the link for Thursday night’s box score.

Records

Brazos Valley 12-9
San Antonio 13-7

Flying Chanclas reliever Johnny Panatex pitched three scoreless innings and allowed two hits while striking out four against the Brazos Valley Bombers on Thursday at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

Flying Chanclas reliever Johnny Panatex pitched three scoreless innings and allowed two hits while striking out four. – photo by Joe Alexander

Coming up

San Antonio at Brazos Valley, Friday at 7:05 p.m.

Notable

Flores and Thompson are both on batting tears. Flores, from Corpus Christi Carroll and the University of the Incarnate Word, is hitting .357 on a seven-game batting streak and .323 for the season … In the streak, he is 10 for 28 with seven RBI. He has driven in five runs in his last two games.

Thompson, meanwhile, is batting .538 in his last four games. In that stretch he is 7 for 13 with two doubles and a triple. The former standout at Boerne Champion High School has also scored seven runs. The burst has lifted Thompson’s batting average to .312 …

Surging Flying Chanclas win 12-2 for third straight victory

Flying Chanclas first baseman Ryan Flores from University of the Incarnate Word hitting his first double of the game against the Cane Cutters on Saturday, July 4, 2020, at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

Flying Chanclas first baseman Ryan Flores, from University of the Incarnate Word, hits his first double against the Acadiana Cane Cutters. – photo by Joe Alexander

After a slow start to the season, the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio have soared to three straight victories.

The Chanclas, behind the hitting of Ryan Flores and the starting pitching of Derek Klosowski, defeated the Acadiana Cane Cutters 12-2 on Saturday night at Wolff Stadium.

Klosowski hurled four shutout innings and Flores smacked a couple of doubles as the Chanclas improved to 2-0 against the Cane Cutters on the homestand and to 3-2 on the season.

Earlier last week, the Chanclas sputtered in their first two games of the Texas Collegiate League season.

In the opener, played on Tuesday at Amarillo, they committed four errors and struck out 14 times in a 9-6 loss to the Sod Squad. On Wednesday night, they fell flat again, losing 1-0 to the Sod Squad while managing only two hits.

Since then, they’ve turned it around completely.

In the first game of the winning streak, they claimed an 11-5 victory at Amarillo on Thursday. Returning home to the Wolff, they downed the Cane Cutters 7-4 on Friday, before they won going away again on Saturday.

Acadiana pitching was generous in walking 12 batters on a night when the ball club celebrated with a post-game, Fourth-of-July fireworks display.

The teams play the finale of the three-game series Sunday.

Runs-hits-errors

Acadiana 2 – 4 – 3
San Antonio 12 – 8 – 1

Please click on the link for Saturday’s box score.

Records

San Antonio 3-2
Acadiana 1-4

Coming up

Acadiana at San Antonio, 7:05 p.m. Sunday

Notable

Flores, from the University of the Incarnate Word, has played in 113 games for the Cardinals in the past three years. The former standout at Corpus Christi Calallen hit .329 as a freshman, .335 as a sophomore and .270 as a junior during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Klosowski is a 6-1 right-hander who’s on the team at Midland College.

Flying Chanclas starting pitcher Derek Klosowski, a Madison High School graduate, pitched four scorelessy innings against the Cane Cutters on Saturda. - photo by Joe Alexander

Flying Chanclas starting pitcher Derek Klosowski, a Madison High School graduate, pitched four scoreless innings and allowed only one hit. – photo by Joe Alexander