FEATURE: Garcia gives everything for trip back to Austin

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HOUSTON – Long after the dust had settled and the tears of joy had been wiped away from her cheeks, Aaliyah Garcia was back in the dugout.

Standing at the end of the bench, with a Stim machine hooked up, two bags of ice wrapped around her right shoulder and another bag wrapped around her leg, the Angleton senior pitcher looked like someone who had just come out of a battle.

In a way she did.

A seven-inning, 128-pitch, win-or-go-home fight against a stout Barbers Hill lineup to keep her team's season alive with a trip to Austin on the line, which the Ladycats won 9-8.

"She's been my girl for four years now," Angleton coach Cindy Rubio said with tears welling up in her eyes. "I'm going to be really sad to see her go. She has worked hard for me. She's never complained, she's just gutted up and gone.

"Last year she gave it all she had, and we came up short. For her to go out there and gut it up as much as she did and just give all that grit and determination she has and to be able to come out with the win really seals off her senior year."

Throughout the playoffs, Garcia has been a major force for now-state-bound Angleton.

In nine playoff games, Garcia has gone 8-1, giving up 27 runs on 36 hits, while striking out 69 and walking 17 in 57 innings.

Opponents during the playoffs are batting just .167 against the Georgia Southern signee.

"I think is an accumulation of my whole high school career," Garcia said. "This is my last run. I don't want anything to stop me."

Garcia's strikeout numbers have been impressive, setting down 1.21 per inning and 7.2 per game, while giving up less than two walks per outing.

Another number that stands out are the number of pitches.


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Altuve's homer starting the scoring for Houston on Friday night. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
After a solid showing to take the three of the four-game series in Arlington against the Rangers to start the week, the Astros returned home for three against the Diamondbacks in a weekend series. They would have a slow start to the opener but would ultimately come away victorious.

Final Score (10 innings): Astros 4, Diamondbacks 3

Astros' Record: 87-60, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (3-4)

Losing Pitcher: Tyler Clippard (1-1)

Bielak makes the impromptu start

With Luis Garcia having to move his start ahead by a day on Thursday instead of Friday with Framber Valdez's finger cut, Brandon Bielak made a start for Houston in the opener against Arizona. He didn't go as deep as he probably would have wanted and certainly ventured out of his comfort zone with traffic on the bases.

He loaded the bases in the top of the first, allowing a single and two walks, but was able to strand all three to keep it a scoreless game. He rebounded with a 1-2-3 second, but he dealt with a threat again in the third as back-to-back singles pressured him to start the inning. He would get back-to-back strikeouts, but that's as far as he would go as Houston moved on to Blake Taylor. Taylor got the final out of the third on one pitch, then erased a two-out double in the top of the fourth.

Altuve breaks up the no-no with a go-ahead homer

Brooks Raley took over in the top of the fifth, but in his three batters, he faced allowed a single while getting two outs before Cristian Javier took over to end the frame. Javier allowed the first run of the game in the top of the sixth, a leadoff solo homer to Kole Calhoun to put the Diamondbacks in front 1-0 before he finished the inning.

Madison Bumgarner didn't allow a single hit to the Astros through the first five and two-thirds innings. He allowed a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth, which proved costly as Jose Altuve would get the first knock of the game for Houston, a two-run go-ahead homer. Phil Maton was the next reliever for the Astros in the top of the seventh, maintaining the new one-run lead by erasing a leadoff single.

Astros get the win in extras

The Diamondbacks tied it up in the top of the eighth against Kendall Graveman, getting a leadoff single followed by a walk, then later an RBI single to knot things up 2-2. Houston stranded a runner in the bottom of the eighth, then brought in Ryan Pressly, who tossed a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to keep the game tied.

Despite getting the winning run in scoring position with a leadoff ground-rule double by Jason Castro to start the bottom of the ninth, they would strand it as the game went to extras. Arizona scored their free runner in the top of the tenth, getting a sac fly to move it to third then going in front on an RBI single.

The Astros matched that and more in the bottom of the inning, moving their runner to third on a lineout to start the frame, followed by an intentional walk to Yordan Alvarez. Jake Meyers tied the game with an RBI single, then after another walk to load the bases, Chas McCormick was hit by a pitch to bring in the winning run, moving the Astros closer to clinching their playoff berth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will have a start time of 6:10 PM Central on Saturday. Tyler Gilbert (2-2, 3.15 ERA) is expected to make a start for Arizona, while Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.12 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston.

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