AUSTIN (KXAN) — They’ve won a school-record 40 games this season, and now the Westlake Chaparrals are trying for two more to claim a 6A baseball state title.
The Chaps, 40-4 this season and 10-1 in postseason play, are matched up against the Pearland Oilers in the 6A semifinals scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Dell Diamond. It’s the first time since 2009 that Westlake has appeared in the state tournament, and head coach JT Blair said this team hates to lose more than it likes to win.
“They’re just not going to be denied,” he said. “We’ve won games in every possible way. We’ve come from behind, won in extra innings, boat-raced people … they have a burning desire in them and they’re resilient.”
A senior-laden squad with 23, the only hiccup on their playoff ledger was a 1-0 loss to Round Rock in the first game of the regional quarterfinals. The Chaps shrugged that loss off, considering they had to face potential first-round draft pick Travis Sykora, and grabbed the next two games to win the series. Since then, they’ve swept their way to state. The Chaps went to extra innings to beat San Antonio Johnson 3-1 to clinch the Region IV title June 2.
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The Oilers, Region III champions, are just as hot as the Chaps. They are also 10-1 in the postseason and they won their last 14 regular season games. They’re led by Texas A&M recruit Caden Ferarro, who is hitting .387 this season, and sophomore pitcher Nico Partida, a sophomore who has verbally committed to Arizona State. Partida has a 12-0 record on the mound with a fastball in the 90 mph range.
Westlake senior outfielder Will Magids, hitting .360 this season, said the team knew this year could be special, given all the guys returning from the previous season.
“We have guys with a lot of experience in this atmosphere and playing in big games,” he said, “and we’ve got a lot of two-sport guys who know what it’s like to have a state championship ring. They bring that mentality to the dugout.”
Magids is one of those two-sport guys, he was a defensive back on the football team that won three state titles and got to the semifinals this past season. Magids will play baseball next year at Texas Tech.
Junior middle infielder Theo Gillen has verbally committed to Texas and he said the team “just loves to compete.”
“We have a lot of trust in each other,” he said. “We love to battle. We’re resilient, we don’t give up and we compete every pitch.”
It’s 26 miles from Westlake’s campus to Dell Diamond in Round Rock, making it essentially a home game for the Chaps. Pearland head coach David Rogers told VYPEHouston in an interview the support for the team there is “like no other,” with all the other teams going to games cheering on each other. If Oilers fans make the drive to Round Rock and converge with Westlake fans, it’s sure to be one of the best environments for a high-stakes high school baseball game.
“Westlake Nation is second to none. They show out every game,” Gillen said. “We could be in Eagle Pass or around the corner at Dell Diamond, they’ll be there and they’ll cause some havoc”