HARRIS COUNTY - HSA INSIDER

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You didn’t dream it. Yet those images keep popping up in your mind, right?

You hear the bats crack and replay Jose Altuve’s home run followed by another monumental homer from Carlos Correa. The exclamation point from George Springer. Justin Verlander’s fierce focus from the mound, then his cheerleading as he kept peeking around the dugout corner.

Those Houston Astros body-bumping and playing with that infectious joy usually reserved for kids on a sandlot on a summer day. Only this time it was an epic 7-6, 11-inning Game 2 World Series win over the Dodgers. In LA.

Great moments, all. But what about Alex Bregman’s perfect throw home in Game 7 against the Yankees? Those high-flying Altuve-Correa hugs?

Dare you to pick your one favorite Astros moment so far. Tough, right?

Now think about rookie DeShaun Watson working his magic with the Texans’ offense, the incredible chemistry between Chris Paul and James Harden which has the Rockets off to a great start, the playoff excitement from the Dynamo in the playoffs and, well,  just try to come up with the single greatest moment of 2017 in Houston Sports, period. And don’t forget there are still more moments to come.

All that said, this your invitation to start thinking about athletes and moments you would nominate for the inaugural Houston Sports Awards on Feb. 8, 2018.

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority will be celebrating the best in Houston sports that night with a red-carpet event at the Hilton-Americas. There are 10 categories -- everything from three Athletes of the Year (Pro/Olympian, College and High School) to Moment of the Year and Sportsmanship Award and more -- and you can nominate at www.HoustonSportsAwards.com.

You have until Dec. 1 to submit your choices, so take a look at the categories on the website and start thinking – or submitting -- now.

* * * *

Robin Burke didn’t hesitate.

When the Vice President of Champions Golf Club was scrolling down her Facebook page last month and saw that the United States Golf Association was going to have to postpone its 2017 Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship due to damage to Quail Creek Country Club Naples, Fla., from Hurricane Irma, she shot a friend a message:

“Hey, bring it to Texas. We survived Hurricane Harvey with minimal damage. We’ll host it.”

Within 24 hours, Burke and the USGA were talking about possible dates and the Women’s Mid-Am was on the way to Champions where 132 of the best women amateurs over the age of 25 will tee it up Nov. 11-16. The winner gets a spot in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open.

It’s a trial run, of sorts, for the storied course, which will host the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open. Champions also held the 1967 Ryder Cup, the 1969 U.S. Open, four TOUR Championships, the Houston Champions International from 1966-1971 and was the site of Ben Hogan’s final round in 1971.

“So here we are,’’ Burke said, “about to pull off something that takes two years to plan in less than two months.’’

Burke, the wife of Hall of Famer Jack Burke, Jr., wouldn’t have it any other way. The 2016 Curtis Cup captain has played in 23 Mid-Ams, advancing to the semifinals first in 1998, when it was held at Champions, then again in 2005 and 2010. This year, she didn’t try to qualify. Looking back, she wishes she had.

Things have fallen into place quickly. Burke was so confident in Champions’ golf course superintendent and team that she knew they would be able to get the layout in championship condition in no time. That done, she turned her attention to finding a chairman and called friend Alli Jarrett, owner of Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room and former USGA Regional Affairs director.

“She told me she’d have to think about it,’’ Burke said, “She called me back in 20 minutes and said, ‘I can’t stand it, I’m in.’ ‘’

The 2017 field features nine former Mid-Am champs including four-time champ Meghan Stasi.

If you’d like to volunteer, go to

http://www.txga.org/form.php?id=2017-US-Womens-MidAmateur-Volun. Admission to the event is free.

* * * *

The World Corporate Games, where weekend athletes, businesses and corporations from around the world come together to compete on multiple levels for two days in 15 different sports, is coming to Houston November 17-19.

More than 1,000 entrants from nine different countries will compete in everything from badminton to beach volleyball, bowling and dragon boat racing. The event includes a Health & Wellness Expo at the Marriott Marquis and today is the last day to sign up a team for everything but running at www.wcghouston.com. The running deadline has been extended to Nov. 10. The site also has volunteer opportunities.

* * * *

Houston isn’t just one of 32 cities contending for a chance to host matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The nation’s fourth-largest city will also host a meeting with the United Bid Committee Nov. 14-17 with the other 31 cities bidding for potential spots should the U.S.-Canada-Mexico group be chosen to host the 2026 event.

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Yordan Alvarez provided the offense to back up more stellar pitching by the Astros as they took ALCS game 6 to advance to the 2021 World Series. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of this series in Houston then falling behind in the series 2-1 by dropping the first of three games in Boston, the Astros took over the ALCS in Games 4 and 5, sending them back to their home crowd with a chance to finish things off in Game 6 at Minute Maid Park. After another stellar performance by their pitching staff and more timely hitting, they would accomplish that mission, winning the series and moving on to the 2021 World Series.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 0

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston wins 4-2

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Losing Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Houston strikes first to start tightly-contested Game 6

After a scoreless top of the first inning by Boston's offense, the Astros capitalized on a chance to be first to score in the bottom of the frame. Alex Bregman started the two-out rally, reaching base on a single against Nathan Eovaldi for the first hit of the night. Yordan Alvarez followed, delivering his sixth RBI of the series with a double to put Houston on top 1-0.

That did not spark further immediate scoring, as the one-run score held while both starting pitchers provided solid outings for their team. For Eovaldi, he was able to limit Houston to just that single run through four frames. He returned in the bottom of the fifth, facing two batters, allowing a single, and getting a strikeout to end his night.

Garcia impresses in big start

For the home team, they were recipients of another expectation-exceeding performance from one of their young arms. Only anticipated to go a handful of innings, Luis Garcia worked efficiently and effectively against Boston, keeping them scoreless and hitless through five innings. He continued in the sixth, getting two more outs before allowing a two-out triple, ending his night as Phil Maton would enter to strand the tying run. Garcia's final line: 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 76 P.

With both teams dipping into their bullpens, the Astros took advantage of Boston's as Yordan Alvarez's dominance went on display once again. He led the inning off with a triple, then scored on a double-play ball to extend Houston's lead to 2-0. Kendall Graveman took over on the mound in the top of the seventh and worked himself into a big moment. He gave up a one-out walk, followed by a single, which put runners on the corners for Boston. He continued to struggle with the zone, falling behind the next batter 3-1, but was able to battle back to get the strikeout paired with a terrific throw by Martin Maldonado to cut down the runner from first trying to steal second, ending the inning and maintaining the two-run advantage.

Astros headed to the World Series

Ryne Stake was Houston's next reliever, and he put Houston three outs away by getting a 1-2-3 eighth. With Ryan Pressly warming, he watched and hoped that his offense could give him some more insurance to work with when he went to the mound in the top of the ninth. His wish would be granted, as after getting two on base, Kyle Tucker would put a major exclamation point on the night's offense, hitting a three-run opposite-field homer to the Crawford Boxes to push the lead to 5-0.

Pressly, now with the five-run lead, came on to try and start the celebration by getting the final three outs. Against the tougher part of Boston's order, he would get a 1-2-3 inning, giving the Astros the American League pennant, which along with those won in 2017 and 2019, puts them back in the World Series for the third time in five years.

Up Next: The Astros will have three days off before The Fall Classic kicks off. While Game 1 will be on Tuesday, October 26th, nothing else has yet been determined as Houston awaits to see which of the Dodgers and Braves will advance out of the NL, which will also dictate if the Astros will host or travel to World Series Game 1.

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