North Shore High School has fielded good baseball teams in the past. The 2017 version has discovered a missing dynamic that has the Mustangs in the regional semifinals for the first time in 30 years.
Rallying from a 5-0 deficit in the fifth inning of game two of a Region III-6A quarterfinal series against La Porte, North Shore forced the game into extra innings before a six-run eighth inning blew it open.
The 24-9 Mustangs swept the best-of-three regional quarterfinal series with La Porte 3-2 and 11-5 to face Fort Bend Travis in a best-of-three regional semifinal series beginning May 25 at Rice University.
North Shore has defeated Brazoswood, Dickinson and La Porte in the 2017 state playoffs.
“We’ve had talent in the past, but there was always something missing that kept us from being really good,” said North Shore head baseball coach Lee Martinez. “This team is the most talented team I’ve had. But what sets it apart is the kids genuinely care about each other.
“When you have a team that believes and are willing to fight for each other regardless of their role on the team, that’s a tough combination to beat,” Martinez said. “They back each other up whether they’re starters or backups.
“When you can eliminate the selfish factor and the ego factor, then you have a great team,” Martinez said.
The North Shore team-first formula emerged victorious in the series clincher against La Porte.
Drevian Williams Nelson and Isaiah Henry had RBI singles in the six-run eighth-inning uprising. Kortlin Williams came off the bench to deliver a two-RBI hit while Ryan Randle and Gilbert Cavazos added RBI walks.
Micheal Boult picked up North Shore’s first hit of the game with a fourth-inning single. Randle had a booming triple in the sixth inning and eventually scored on a La Porte error to bring the Mustangs within 5-4. Jordan Hussein’s bases-loaded walk tied the game (5-5).
Henry pitched a scoreless seventh inning to send the game into extra frames. Ace lefthander Joshua Larzabal survived some base-running traffic to close the game in the bottom of the eighth.
Now the Mustangs are back in the regional semifinals for the first time since 1987 when they advanced to the state semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Abilene Cooper.
In 1989 North Shore lost to Dulles in the third round of the playoffs and the Vikings went on to claim the state title.
Long before North Shore became a state powerhouse in football, basketball and track, the Mustangs’ baseball program was at the top of the school’s athletic totem pole.
Several of the current Mustangs players will have an opportunity to display their baseball talents play on the collegiate level, including Larzabal (Rice University), Henry (Alvin Community College), Aaron Celestino (Incarnate Word), Randle (Mountain View College), Hussein (Crowder College) and Isaiah Sanchez (Wayland Baptist).
“These guys came together at the right time,” Martinez said. “We started clicking in the second round of district play. We want to ride this wave for as long as we can.”