By Aaron Weintraub

Today’s Mental Skills Tip – The role models I've found are consistently the same people who are the most eager to learn more. These high achievers seem to have earned the right to be satisfied with what they already know. It's an interesting fact of life that the people who need the most humility usually have the least while the people who seem to need it the least usually have the most.

Life really is, as author of Peter Pan Sir James Matthew Barrie says, a "long lesson in humility." I've been learning... Experience teaches that when I am performing great and I get over-confident, something will happen very soon to cause me to lose my "flow." If I am not open to criticism, someone else will surely learn what I missed and pass me on the way up the ladder. If I am not respectful of others, I will forfeit my chance at the teamwork it takes to approach my own potential. Even in individual sports, I am much more powerful with the support of others. If I am not intense in my approach because I start believing this won't be that difficult, I will not give a best effort performance. If I lose my sense of urgency because I don't think the opponent is capable of humbling me, I sometimes get lucky - or I often pay a hefty price and lose when I easily could've (most would say "should've") won. Why take that chance?

Does the importance of humility defy the importance of confidence or interfere with aggressiveness? Not at all. Great athletes are confident, aggressive, and humble. They respect that giving a best effort performance is always difficult. Life and performance are balancing acts, but champions don't fall over because they maintain a hunger to learn and an eagerness to work. It is their preparation that allows them to consistently perform at a high level. Performance will always have ups and downs because people, by definition, are imperfect. However, with a disciplined, humble approach, great athletes achieve superior consistency because their dips in performance are shallow declines, not deep "slumps" while their peak performances occur more frequently and last longer. Their humility breeds their consistency!

Coaching Point - How do you work with an "uncoachable" athlete, a teenager with no humility? Do you give up on him or show the consistency of your high expectations and your commitment to your players? Do you complain about his stubbornness or view it as a worthwhile test of your coaching skill? It is the rare, fortunate coaches whose players hang on their every word. Of course, providing great advice based on years of training and then watching it get totally ignored can certainly be frustrating... if you allow it to be. If what you're doing doesn't seem to be working, keep trying (often with a twist in your strategy). What alternative is there? Even if you don't ever reap the benefits of your great work, that kid probably will. It may take years, but your persistence and creativity will probably allow the lesson to sink in long before it would've without your help -- and down the road this could be the difference between him keeping his job and getting fired. Does that help you, a coach who loves to win games this year? Simply... yes!

It is what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden


May 11, 2009

With no statistics available for a write-up, here are the results of the last six Thunder games of the 2009 Spring Season.

  • Thunder 6, Northside Falcons 5 (Opening of Houston Homeschool Tourney)
  • Thunder 12, HCYA Eagles 0
  • Then, yet another misstep against the Mustangs...Mustangs 7, Thunder 5

Still, the 2-1 record in round-robin play was good enough to put the Thunder in the Tourney Championship. Before that game however, the Varsity and JV met the Houston Power.

  • Thunder JV 7, Power 6
  • Thunder 9, Power 2

That led to the championship game against the Falcons.

  • Northside 7, Thunder 6 - with the Falcons' ace going the distance on the mound, the Thunder found themselves trailing 7-4 headed into the bottom of the seventh inning. TC Cooper blasted a two-run homer that narrowed the margin to one, but that's where the comeback, and the season, ended.

The Thunder Varsity finished up at 20-13...the JV, 9-4-1. The season was both rewarding and frustrating. There were many games during the course of the season that could have, should have wound up in the win column, but didn't. Most notably, tough losses against Lutheran North, St. Pius, the Kinkaid game where the Thunder led the whole way, until the last swing of a Falcons' bat, both Mustangs games, the final Northside meeting, and of course, the losses to Memphis (10-8) and Montgomery (1-0) at Regionals that kept us out of the World Series this year.

Still, it was a memorable ride. We'll never forget, and will miss terribly our departing seniors... Aaron Zwahr, Rich Ownby, Daniel Wolfskill, Phillip Berzins, Joseph Pinedo, Colby Stafford

Thanks for the memories, good luck in your future endeavors guys, and stay in touch!


May 1, 2009

After losing the previous two meetings with Second Baptist in blowouts, the Eagles got all they could handle in edging the Thunder, 5-3 Wednesday night. The game came up quickly, having not been scheduled until a few hours before game time, in fact, several Thunder regulars were unalbe to attend. Yet, West Houston nearly pulled off their first win over the Eagles.

Second Baptist got off to quite a start when leadoff hitter, Al Ralston took a tough, 1-2 pitch from freshman Ben Distefano, and deposited it over the right field fence for a very early, 1-0 lead. Distefano then settled in to strike out the Eaglss next three batters in order. Distefano also shut down Second Baptist in the second inning before handing the ball to Richard Ownby.

Ownby was also sharp, holding the Eagles scoreless in the third. In the top of the fourth, Distefano got things started for the Thunder when he reached first on a passed third strike. With one out, Ownby walked and Cheo Jauregui singled to load the bases. That's when Evan Cokinos hit a left-center field gapper for a double that cleared the bases, and put the Thunder in the drivers' seat, 3-1.

In the bottom of the fourth, Second Baptist mounted the rally many feared they had in them, coming through with a single, walk and double to tie the score at 3. In the fifth, the Eagles regained the lead for good on two walks and a pair of singles to go up 5-3.

The Thunder battled back, putting a pair of runners on base in the top of the seventh, but couldn't get the key hits they needed against the Eagles' unorthodox submarine-style closer. The Thunder got a pair of hits by Jauregui, along with Cokinos' double. Colby Stafford had the only other Thunder hit. Thunder pitchers, Distefano, Onwby and Aaron Zwahr limited the heavy-hitting Eagles to nine scattered hits, and just two for extra bases.

West Houston is 17-11 heading into the Houston Homeschool Tournament.


April 27, 2009

Episcopal JV Game Rained Out

With the Thunder up 2-0, with two out in the bottom of the first, and every indication of another Thunder win, lightning and rain washed out last Friday's matchup with the Knights.

With all present still hurting over the so-close-yet-so-far-away trip to the World Series, a bitter-sweet realization swept over all who gathered in the Thunder dugout. With the exception of TC Cooper who couldn't make the game, and Joe Cavicchi, still recovering from his back injury, the players in the dugout for the JV game, are now, essentially, the Varsity.

Bitter, because we will greatly miss our six graduating seniors; and the fact that this was, by most accounts, the best Thunder team ever, yet didn't make the World Series.

Sweet, because of the promise of great things ahead that we have with the underclassmen. Yes, we still have a couple JV-Varsity double-headers coming up with the Houston Power, and the Houston Homeschool Tournament this season, but for the most part, the Varsity torched has been passed.


April 19, 2009

Thunder Can't Get Hits In Key Situations...Lose 1-0 Pitchers Duel With Saints

There were a lot of very good teams at the Home-School West Regional; Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Memphis, Montgomery, AL. Saints, the Mustangs, the Falcons, and others. But there may not have been a better team than the West Houston Thunder. The Thunder, however, will not be heading to Pensacola this year.

On Sunday afternoon, Montgomery managed to push a run across the plate, the Thunder did not, absorbing a heart-breaking 1-0 loss in a game to decide who would move on to play Dallas for 3rd and 4th, and move on to Florida.

In an extraordinary pitcher's duel between the Saints' highly touted, University of Georgia-bound ace, Cooper Moseley, and the Thunder's TC Cooper, who had also shut down the Dallas Angels on four hits in the opener, base hits would be as rare as a Capitalist in the Obama Administration. Cooper was also backed up by some tremendous defensive efforts, including a Sports Center highlight (Da na na! Da na na!) play by Aaron Zwahr. Playing shortstop, Zwahr made a diving grab on a likely base hit up the middle, rolled over, and from a near-prone position, fired the ball to first for the out. It was a big time play by the senior.

So dominant was Cooper, that he had not allowed a runner to get past first base, and carried a one-hit shut out going into the sixth inning when, with the score tied at 0, he issued a walk to the Saints' leadoff batter. That brought Moseley to the plate. Moseley ripped a two-strike double down the right field line to set up Montgomery with runners at second and third. Cooper induced a fly ball to Joseph Pinedo in center, and Pinedo's near-perfect throw home, was not quite in time to get the tagged-up runner coming home from third. Cooper then retired the Saints with no further damage to get out of the inning.

Still trailing 1-0 heading into the bottom of the 7th and final inning, the Thunder mounted their last, best threat of the game. Cheo Jauregui led off with single. Michael Wolfskill pinch ran for Jauregui and stole second. RIchard Ownby bunted safely as the Saint's third baseman misplayed the ball moving Wolskill to third. Two pitches later, Richard Ownby stole second putting runners at second and third. Phillip Berzins, coming off his sensational two hit, three RBI game against the Riders, couldn't get a bunt down, and struck out. Pinedo popped up his bunt attempt, and a diving Moseley couldn't catch it in the air, but Wolfskill held at third on the pop-up, and Moseley recovered to make the play at first to get Pinedo for the second out. Colby Stafford flew out to left, and the Saints had preserved their 1-0 victory.

West Houston managed just three hits for the game, two by Cooper, and Jauregui's single. Cooper matched his SEC prospect counterpart pitch for pitch, limiting Montgomery to just two hits. Offensively, the Thunder got runners to third three times during the game, but couldn't get them home.

It was a roller-coaster ride tournament for the Thunder who drew the 16th seed and had to open against top seed, Dallas. West Houston rose to the occasion, playing to their potential, and pummeling the Angels, 10-1. They stumbled against Memphis and HCYA, losing to the Eagles 10-8, and then barely hanging on to win against the "other" Eagles, 7-6. They rebounded against a quality Fort Worth team, blanking the Riders 5-0, behind another pitching gem by Zwahr, before bowing out 1-0 against Montgomery, Alabama.

The 17-10 Thunder will need to regroup as another tough encounter with the Episcopal Knights looms this Friday night.


April 19, 2009

Thunder Rolls Over Top-Seeded Dallas, 10-1

The West Houston Thunder sent the Regional favorite Dallas Angels, to an early clawback bracket fate, and in the process became the talk of the tournament, as they rolled to a surprisingly easy, 10-1 win over the Angels.

Angels manager Ken Goode, knowing what he was up against with the Thunder, was said to be at least as unhappy with his first-round draw as the Thunder faithful. The matchup was somewhat akin to an NCAA March Madness first-round meeting between North Carolina and Duke. Goode's concerns turned out to be well-founded.

TC Cooper was masterful in his complete-game, four-hit, six strike-out performance on the hill. Cooper got plenty of offensive support when the Thunder broke open a 1-1 game in the fourth, exploding for six runs. The West Houston avalanche was highlighted by a two-run blast by Richard Ownby.

With Cooper handcuffing the Angels from the mound (which looked more like a pitcher's Mount Vesuvius...the mound was so high, the pitcher's had to reach the rubber with mountain climbing gear...spectators expected it to blow ash and lava at any moment) the Thunder added two more in the fifth and another one in the sixth, to make the final, 10-1. The Thunder were led by Colby Stafford, who had two hits, including a double, Aaron Zwahr and Ben Distefano who each doubled, and of course, Ownby's home run.

After notching their first-ever win over Dallas, the 15-8 Thunder move on to face the Memphis Eagles in the second round.

A Funny Thing Happens During The Thunder's March To The Championship...

Not funny, haha...funny, weird. After a brilliant performance against Dallas, the Thunder stumbled against a lesser Memphis Eagles team, falling 10-8.

The Thunder pounded their way to a 4-1 lead, then watched as the Eagles chipped away relentlessly, using passed balls, walks and timely hits to eventually lead, 9-4, and 10-6, heading into the final at-bat for West Houston.

The Thunder put together a mild rally, but fell just short, at 10-8, dropping to 15-9 on the season, and into the Clawback Bracket, where three wins will be necessary to advance to the World Series, four to finish in 3rd place.

Thunder Wins Scary & Ugly...Scugly, Against HCYA Eagles

Maybe the problem was the earlier beating the Thunder administered the Eagles, winning 17-4, after building a 17-0 lead at the Baytown Christian Tournament. This time, the Eagles threw a scare into the Thunder before succumbing, 7-6 in a freezing, rain delayed contest Friday morning.

West Houston fell behind 1-0 early, but TC Cooper ripped a two-run homer just over the center field fence to give the Thunder a 2-1 lead. The Thunder built the lead to 7-1 by the top of the fifth inning, and had the bases loaded with no outs when heavy rain brought on the delay. When action resumed Saturday morning, the Thunder couldn't produce a single run with the bases loaded and no one out.

HCYA came up in the bottom of the sixth and final inning, fired up, with their crowd fully behind them. A single, a bunt that stayed just fair down the first base line, along with several errors and walks, started a downpour of a different kind, as the Eagles poured five runs across the plate before Aaron Zwahr came in to finally record the last out, and preserve the Thunders' 7-6 win.

Cooper paced West Houston's offense, with three hits, one of which being his home run. Zwahr had the only other multiple hit performance, with two. In all the Thunder also out-hit the Eagles 7-6, in raising their record to 16-9, and staying alive for a berth in the World Series. Next up, the always tough Fort Worth Riders.

Riders Sent Packing: Thunder Shuts Out Fort Worth, 5-0

Getting back to playing the kind of baseball that enabled them to beat the tournament favorites in the opener, the Thunder continued to dominate teams from the Metroplex, blanking the Riders 5-0.

The common denominator in the first game and this one, was tremendous pitching. Aaron Zwahr followed up TC Cooper's gem, with a brilliant effort of his own. Zwahr struck-out 11, and scattered just four hits, on his way to the complete game, seven inning, shut out victory.

Clinging to a razor-thin 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, Phillip Berzins crushed a two-run triple deep into the left-center gap, to provide the Thunder a 3-0 cushion, and pick up his third RBI of the game. Josh Boothe added a two-run single in the sixth for insurance. In all, the Thunder had eight hits, Zwahr helped his own cause with three of them, including a double; Berzins had two, and Joseph Pinedo added a triple.

The Montgomery Alabama Saints are next for the 17-9 Thunder, who need the win to advance to the World Series. Should they win that game, it's likely that a rematch with the Dallas Angels for third and fourth place would follow.


April 14, 2009

Thunder Given 16th Seed At Regionals-Dead Last?!?!?

The good news? There weren't 17 teams at Regionals. Perhaps if the Rooster Puke Homeschool Association For The Deaf & Blind had entered, we'd have gotten the 17th seed. Two straight trips to the World Series, a 2nd place finish the year before last, and the entire team back from last years' team, is all apparently meaningless. Well, so let it be written, so let it be done. All this means is, we open against top-seeded Dallas, and this would be a great time to score the program's first win over the Angels. Game time for Wednesday is 10am. This year's seeds are as follows:

1. Dallas

2. Montgomery, Al. Saints

3. Oklahoma City

4. Northside Falcons

5. San Antonio Patriots

6. Chattanooga

7. Montgomery Co. Mustangs

8. Bryan Mustangs

9. Memphis

10. Fort Worth Riders

11. HCYA

12. Fort Worth Warriors

13. Baton Rouge

14. Little Rock

15. Southwest Dallas Spartans

16. Yes, your West Houston Thunder!

I'd love to see the criteria used to compile the seeds. If it's only head to head homeschool competition, it's hard to reconcile HCYA being seeded ahead of the Thunder, after the 17-6, run-rule rout-beating, administered by the Thunder against the Eagles early this season.

Well, OK, the road ahead has been defined. At Avis car rental their slogan used to be..."at Avis we're number 2, so we try harder." Imagine how hard we'll try at number 16?


April 14, 2009

Knights Win 13-4 Hit-Crusade Against Thunder

Episcopal piled up twelve hits and, maybe worse still, eight walks, to roll over the Thunder 13-4 on Tuesday night, in the final pre-Regionals tune-up for West Houston.

After the Knights scored two runs in both the first and second innings, the Thunder came roaring back to make a game of it in the top of the third. Rich Ownby got the ball rolling with a walk, after which, Joseph Pinedo and Aaron Zwahr also drew walks to load the bases. Batting cleanup, TC Cooper ripped a three run double deep to right field, to close the gap and breathe new life into the Thunder at 4-3.

Unfortunately, walks and timely line-drive hits by the Knights took their toll, as they scored four more in the bottom of the third, for an 8-3 cushion, before adding five in the fifth. The Thunder, pushed across another run in the sixth, to make the final score 13-4, but managed just three hits; two by Pinedo along with Cooper's double, in dropping to 14-8.

The Thunder will have another opportunity against the Knights a week from Thursday, but now turn their focus to the all-important Regionals in Plano beginning Wednesday.

Thunder JV Shuts Out Episcopal, 5-0

The Thunder jumped out early and never looked back, blanking Episcopal 5-0 in a JV matchup Tuesday afternoon.

In the first inning, after Michael Wolfskill drew a walk, Josh Boothe launched a rocket that cleared the right field fence just inside the foul line for a two-run homer, to put the Thunder up 2-0. Then, in the top of the second, West Houston got back to back singles by Sean Heaney and Daniel Miller to put men at first and second. Wolfskill then singled home Heaney to increase the lead to 3-0. A single by Miller in the sixth, followed by a perfect sacrifice bunt laid down by Robert Uehlinger and another single by Wolfskill scored Miller extending the Thunder lead to 4-0. The Thunder scored an insurance run in the seventh after Boothe doubled, moved to third on a passed ball and scored when Hrbacek grouded out.

Four Thunder pitchers, Jauregui, Andrew Minton, Hrbacek and Boothe combined to four-hit the Knights. The pitching staff also gave up just one walk through seven innings, and got great, error free support from the defense. Offensively, Boothe had another impressive game, with a home run and a double. Wolfskill and Miller also had two hits each for the Thunder. The win pushes the Thunder's season mark to 8-4-1.


April 10, 2009

Thunder Has No Problem Handling St. Johns, 15-3

The Thunder scored in every inning they came to bat, in a 15-3 run-rule rout of St. Johns on Thursday.

West Houston jumped on the Mavericks early, using five walks and two hits in the 1st inning to go up 5-0. The Thunder added one run in the 2nd and 3rd innings, before exploding again in the 4th for eight more, and a commanding 15-0 lead. Offensively, Josh Boothe remained hot with another two hit game, Aaron Zwahr belted another home run, for one of his two hits, and Colby Stafford and Ben Distefano both doubled, as the Thunder hammered out 11 hits.

Meanwhile, Richard Ownby was untouchable for the first three innings, as the Mavericks didn't get their first hit until the 4th. Ownby pitched a complete game, four hit, four strikeout gem, in what was a nice tuneup for next week's Regionals in Plano.

The Thunder, 14-7, face one more big challenge between now and Plano, with a meeting against the always tough, Episcopal Knights on Monday.


April 8/, 2009

After Ugly Weekend loss, Thunder Rebounds to Thump El Campo 9-4

What a difference three days makes. After one of their worst outings of the season in the 15-8 loss to the Mustangs on Satuday, the Thunder turned things around with a great performance Tuesday night in El Campo, ripping the very good, 4A, district leading, Ricebirds, 9-4.

Battling the same players from the team that 3 years ago won the Junior League Baseball World Series (13-14 year olds) with a 2-1 win over Mexico, the Thunder needed, and got, one of their best efforts of the season. TC Cooper was in command of his stuff all night, and dominated the Ricebirds, allowing just four hits, while striking out five.

With the score tied at zero in the top of the 2nd, the Thunder put together an impressive four-run rally. Josh Boothe started it off with a single, Cheo Jauregui drew a walk, and Daniel Wolfskill singled, to load the bases. That brought Richard Ownby to the plate, who broke out of his batting slump with a towering double to the right-center field wall that cleared the bases. Ownby took third on a passed ball, and Joseph Pinedo singled him home for a 4-0 Thunder advantage.

In the 4th, the Thunder were back at it again. With two on, Ownby had another opportunity for heroics, and he delivered, crushing a shot deep to the right field wall, to drive in two more runs. Pinedo then walked and stole second, after which Colby Stafford drove a single into the gap in center to score both Ownby and Pinedo, and extend the lead to 8-0.

El Campo scratched out a run in the bottom half of the inning to make it 8-1. Then, in the 5th, the Ricebirds put together their biggest threat of the game. After their leadoff batter walked, Landon Appling launched a two-run homer over the center field wall to draw within 8-3. After Cooper walked the next two batters, Zwahr took the mound in relief, with runners at 1st and 2nd and no outs. The Ricebirds batter lined Zwahr's third pitch to Stafford at short. What happened next was either genius heads-up baseball, or sheer dumb-luck after an error.

Stafford at first appeared to catch the ball, but then dropped it. The runners, apparently unsure whether he had caught the ball, froze at 1st and 2nd; Stafford then went to 2nd, tagging the first runner, then, after some gentleurging from Coach Boothe, threw to first-baseman Josh Boothe to tag the second runner, and touch first to get the batter as well, for the extremely unlikely, triple-play to end the inning. When asked afterward whether he'd dropped the ball on purpose to facilitate the triple-play, Stafford replied: "yeah, definitely." We'll go with that. A genius, heads-up baseball move.

Each team added on meaningless runs in the last inning to make the final score 9-4, and give the Thunder a nice, confidence-building win just eight days before Regionals. Led by Ownby's twin doubles and a pair of singles by Boothe, the Thunder pounded out 10 hits against the formidable Ricebirds pitching staff to improve to 13-7, ahead of the St. Johns game on Thursday.

Thunder JV Snatches a Tie From the Jaws of Victory in 5-5 Draw With El Campo

Woulda, coulda, shoulda. That phrase sums up quite nicely, a somewhat frustrating afternoon for the Thunder against 4A El Campo. After being in command nearly the whole game, West Houston was forced to settle for a 5-5 tie.

Cheo Jauregui again pitched brilliantly in five innings of work, surrendering just six hits and no earned runs, and striking out two against the Ricebirds. Had it not been for a momentary defensive implosion in the 4th inning, Jauregui and the Thunder would have chalked up a very impressive win.

The Thunder onslaught which broke open a tight 1-1 ballgame in the top of the third, began when Ben Distefano singled and Jauregui drew a walk. Each advanced on a grounder by Holden Hrbacek. With runners at 2nd and 3rd and one out, Sean Heaney ripped a two-run double over the left fielder, to the wall, to put the Thunder on top, 3-1. The Thunder would use a Ricebird error, a walk and a sacrifice fly by Jauregui to increase their lead to 5-1 before their inning ended.

El Campo got back into the game in the bottom half of the 3rd with a pair of runs to trail by just a 5-3 margin. Then, with the bases loaded in the 4th inning, Heaney, who ironically had recently been referred to by Coach Boothe as a defensive "beast" of late, bobbled a routine grounder at 2nd, and misfired on the throw to 1st, allowing two Ricebird runs to cross the plate.

Jauregui got through the 5th unscathed and Andrew Minton retired El Campo in order in the 6th, but due to time constraints with the Varsity game pending, the game ended in the 5-5 deadlock. Two hits each from Distefano and Minton, along with Heaney's double, accounted for all of the Thunder's offensive output on the day.

With 8-4 in sight, along with a quality win over a tough 4A opponent, the Thunder instead settles for a record of 7-4-1 on the season.


April 4, 2009

Varsity: Home Run Derby Goes Badly For Thunder...Falling 15-8 To Mustangs

Barton Park's baseball field fence is 300 feet. from home plate...all the way around. That wouldn't necessarily be an issue in a Little League game, but it definitely factors into the equation when two high school varsity teams get together. That reality, coupled with a strong breeze blowing out, and some hard hit balls, sunk the Thunder, 15-8, in a rare loss to the Mustangs on Saturday.

Mustangs coach, Rick Rutledge, knowing this Thunder team as he does, used his "junk ball" pitchers to befuddled the West Houston bats all day. The strategy worked well against this fastball hitting team.

The game was a back and forth affair, with the Thunder initially grabbing a 3-0 lead, the Mustangs coming back 4-3, only to watch the Thunder retake a 5-4 advantage, before the Mustangs went back up again, 8-5. The top of the 6th saw the Thunder tie it back up at 8, but they couldn't hold on. In the bottom of the 6th the Mustangs used several walks, a single, a double, and three home runs, as they exploded for a seven run rally. Overall the Mustangs hit five home runs in the game, two each from Wurster and Aldredge, comparerd to just one for the Thunder, off the bat of Aaron Zwahr. Zwahr had 2 hits, Josh Boothe chipped in 3 for West Houston, who wound up with a total of 9 hits, the Mustangs, 11. From the look of it, the Mustangs just may be a force to be reckoned with at Regionals this year.

The 12-7 THunder will need to quickly regroup for Tuesday's game against a very good 4A, El Campo.

JV Game: Thunder Out-Hits Mustangs 13-10; Loses On Scoreboard By Same Margin

With a substantial wind blowing out toward right-center field, there was no shortage of scoring when the Thunder and Montgomery Mustangs met at Carl Barton Park Saturday. In control most of the contest, the Thunder collapsed late and fell to the Mustangs, 13-10.

The Mustangs took an early lead when leadoff hitter Reagan ripped the first of what would be 12 home runs on the day (6 per game), to go up 1-0. The Thunder countered in the third and fourth innings with home runs by Michael Wolfskill, Holden Hrbacek and TC Cooper to surge ahead 5-1, and eventually lead, 9-2.

West Houston still clung to a 10-7 advantage heading into the bottom of the 5th. That's when the wheels came off. With two outs and the bases loaded for the Mustangs, the Thunder couldn't close the deal. The Mustangs mounted a six run rally before the Thunder defense could finally manage the third out.

Trailing 13-10 in the top of the 6th and final inning, West Houston loaded the bases with two outs, but were unable to produce the key hit to spark the comeback. Offensively, Hrbacek led the way for the Thunder, going 3-3 with the home run. Wolfskill added a double in addition to his homer, Sean Heaney and Cheo Jauregui collected a pair of hits each.

4A El Campo is next up for the Thunder JV on Tuesday, who now slip to 7-4.


April 3, 2009

Thunder Gets Back On Track, Beating Brazos 6-2

On a chilly, breezy, Friday night, the West Houston Thunder overcame a very solid Cougar pitching staff, hammering out 12 hits on the way to a 6-2 win over Brazos, to snap a four game losing streak.

The Thunder got multiple hits from Aaron Zwahr, Ben Distefano, Cheo Jauregui and Colby Stafford.

TC Cooper put the clamps down on the Cougars durng his four innings on the mound, giving up just five hits, while striking out five. Joseph Pinedo struck out three and surrendered four hits in his three inning stint.

After enduring several nail-biting, gut-wrenching losses, this win seemed especially welcome, and improved the Thunder to 12-6 for the year.

Thunder Storm Washes Away Brazos, 21-4 in JV Matchup

Ten runs in the first inning started the deluge for the West Houston, and ten runs finished off the downpour in the 5th, as the Thunder JV pounded Brazos High 21-4 on Friday afternoon.

Cheo Jauregui got the start on the hill, and locked down the Cougars during his brief, two inning appearance, allowing no hits, no runs and striking out four. Andrew Minton pitched well in three innings of relief, scattering seven hits, while striking out two.

Meanwhile, the Thunder cranked up the offense, pounding out 16 hits. Josh Boothe again led the way, going 4 for 5, with a double. Sean Heaney went 3 for 4 with a double, while Holden Matthews, Ben Distefano and Evan Cokinos all had 2 hits, and each also collected doubles. Michael Wolfskill had a 2 hit day as well.

With the nice start to this busy stretch of the schedule, the Thunder moves to 7-3.


April 3, 2009

One week after a spectacular comeback culminated with a walk-off home-run, in a hard-earned victory for Kinkaid, no such heroics were necessary Tuesday night, as Kinkaid drubbed the Thunder, 12-2.

After the JV played their best game of the season in their big win over Kinkaid, the Thunder Varsity was less than sharp in the nightcap. Unfortunately, sharpness is required when taking on a team with Division I caliber college recruits sprinkled throughout the lineup. Kinkaid used eight walks and eight hits to pile up their 12 runs and cruise to their 12th win of the season.

West Houston managed just five hits, as they drop to 11-6, with three games in five days coming up. First, the Thunder visit Brazos High, before meeting the Mustangs in Conroe, and then traveling to 4A El Campo on Tuesday. All three dates will feature both the JV and Varsity in action.

Thunder JV Exacts Sweet Revenge: Routs Kinkaid 11-1

As one Kinkaid coach so eloquently put it immediately after the game, "that was just a good, old-fashioned, country (backside) kicking you just gave us." And so it was. A week after blowing a four run lead and succumbing 9-6, the Thunder put on a defensive clinic in their 11-1 rematch rout of the Falcons Tuesday afternoon.

West Houston got key hits from Aaron Zwahr-two doubles and a single, Josh Boothe, Andrew Minton, Sean Heaney, Ben Distefano and Holden Matthews, that drove in runs and/or kept rallies alive; but it was the Thunder's sparkling defense that really shone on this day. With the bases loaded in the third inning, 3rd baseman Daniel Miller made a brilliant diving catch on a hard-hit line drive, then got up and tagged 3rd base for a multiple-run saving double play. Minton then made a running backhanded stab at shortstop, deep in the gap, robbing another apparent base hit, and threw out the Falcon runner at 1st to end the threat. Heaney also made multiple great plays at 2nd base on well hit balls, to help starting pitcher Cheo Jauregui stymie the talented Kinkaid lineup during four solid innings of work. Josh Boothe finished up the game by retiring the Falcons in order to preserve the victory.

In what was undoubtedly their best effort of the season, the Thunder improved their record to 6-3, with Brazos High and the year's first meeting with the Mustangs on tap this weekend.


March 25, 2009

If the last two losses were disappointing, this one was heart-wrenching. The game started (or very nearly) with a home run and ended the same way, with a lot of great baseball in between.

After Joseph Pinedo led off the game with a single for the Thunder and Colby Stafford flew out to center, Aaron Zwahr blasted a two-run shot over the left field fence to give West Houston a 2-0 lead. Before the 1st inning ended, The Thunder increased their lead to 4-0 on walks from TC Cooper and Josh Boothe, an RBI single by Cheo Jauregui and a passed ball that went to the wall behind home plate.

Zwahr, who in addition to having a great game at the plate, dominated the Falcons through 3 and 2/3 innings on the mound, allowing to that point, just one hit. After walking Kinkaid's leadoff in the 4th, Zwahr easily retired the next two on ground balls to Cooper at 2nd. The Falcons followed that with a pair of singles to load the bases. Zwahr then struck out Kinkaid's next batter, but he reached first base on a dropped 3rd strike. So rather than the Thunder heading back to the dugout still up 4-0, the Falcons inning, and rally, were kept alive. Two more singles and an error allowed Kinkaid to tie the score at 4, before the Thunder were able to escape the inning. Zwahr struck out six in 4 innings, while surrendering just five hits.

The Thunder finally broke the tie in the top of the 7th. Colby Stafford singled with one out and moved to second on a grounder by Zwahr. Cooper then drove Stafford home with a single to right center, to put the Thunder back up on top, 5-4.

Cooper, who relieved Zwahr also pitched effectively in his three innings of work. Heading into the bottom of the 7th and final inning, he'd given up just one hit, while striking out three. In the 7th, Cooper walked the leadoff, then rang up his fourth strikeout of the game, before getting the Falcons' cleanup hitter to foul out to Boothe near the first base line. With two outs, and a one and one count, Kinkaid's five-hole hitter ripped a towering shot over retreating right-fielder Phillip Berzins, and just beyond the fence, to end the game and secure the Falcons' improbable, hard-fought victory.

For the 3rd straight game, the Thunder out-hit their opponent 9-7, but lost where it counts, on the scoreboard. Zwahr led the way offensively with two hits, including the home run, and Stafford also contributed a pair of hits.

The Thunder have a return engagement with Kinkaid, victors over 5A foes Morton Ranch, Chavez, Dobie, Madison and La Marque, next Tuesday. First however, for the 11-5 Thunder, will be a meeting with Memorial High on Monday, as they try to snap their 3 game losing streak.

Last Inning Kinkaid Comeback Dooms Thunder JV, 9-6

The Thunder jumped on Kinkaid early, but couldn't hold on late, succumbing 9-6 to the Falcons on Tuesday afternoon.

For three and a half innings the Thunder dominated a very good Kinkaid team. Unfortunately, the game went a full four innings. Behind the hitting of Cheo Jaurgui who had 3 hits, TC Cooper who ripped two doubles and Evan Cokinos adding a triple, the Thunder built leads of 4-0, 5-1, and still led 6-2 heading into the bottom of the final inning.

That's when the wheels came off for West Houston. Too many walks and some key mistakes contributed to the 7 run Falcon onslaught to steal away the victory, despite being out-hit 7-4. Jauregui, Daniel Miller and Evan Cokinos split up the pitching duties and combined on that 4-hitter, but were done in by some control problems.

The 5-3 JV have a chance for redemption when they face Kinkaid in a rematch next Tuesday.

Lions Nip Thunder 6-5

This one hurt. Frankly, so did the last one at St. Pius. Both were win-able games against quality opponents that just slipped away. The Thunder out-hit Lutheran North 9-7, yet still came out on the short end of the 6-5 decision.

Trailing by one in the top of the 6th, West Houston loaded the bases when Joseph Pinedo beat out an infield hit, and Colby Stafford and Aaron Zwahr walked. With a stiff wind gusting across the field, TC Cooper stepped up to the plate with two outs. Cooper ripped a high fly deep into right center, that nearly got away from the Lions' right fielder in the wind, but he was able to settle under the ball at the last second, to end the threat and preserve the win.

Josh Boothe hit a pair of doubles to light the offensive spark, while Pinedo, Stafford and Daniel Wolfskill all added 2 hits a piece for the Thunder. Rich Ownby went two-plus on the mound, and Joseph Pinedo finished up for the Thunder, combining to scatter 7 hits, while striking out three.

West Houston slides to 11-4 on the season.

Lutheran North JV No Match For Thunder In Quick 18-1 Landslide

The Thunder JV erupted for 14 runs in the top of the 3rd inning Monday, to quickly run-rule the Lutheran North Lions, 18-1, in a game ended after three innings.

West Houston was led offensively by Evan Cokinos with 2 hits, including a double, and four RBI's. Michael Wolfskill, Josh Boothe, Sean Heaney, TC Cooper, Cheo Jauregui and Robert Uehlinger all got in on the hit parade in the Thunder's 8-hit, 18 run attack, which obviously included multiple walks as well.

Josh Boothe pitched all three innings, throwing a one-hitter at the Lion's, as the Thunder JV improved to 5-2.


March 20, 2009

With half the season behind us, and an impressive 11-3 record to show for it, here's a brief look at some of the competition that lies ahead, leading up to the Regional Tourney. Having already been tested by New Waverly, Columbia, Sealy, Second Baptist and St. Pius, the remaining challenges should serve as the "refiners fire" of baseball, to prepare the Thunder for Dallas.

Still on the way are matchups with St. Johns, Brazos High, the always tough Episcopal, who beat Second Baptist 10-9 in extra innings in the Sealy Tournament, and the first meeting this year with the Montgomery Mustangs.

But, first up on Monday is Lutheran North, who, at printing, is 7-3, including four wins over 5A schools...beating Eisenhower twice, as well as Nimitz, MacArthur, and a 13-0 demolition of 4A Wheatley. The Lions no doubt have added incentive after last year's 9-7 extra inning loss at the hands of the Thunder.

The Thunder pay their first visit of the year to 4-2 Kinkaid on Tuesday, one of the Thunder faithful's favorite venues for high school baseball in Houston. Three of the Falcons wins have come at the expense of 5A teams...Elsik, Dobie and Madison.

5A Memorial High JV follows on the 30th. In the Fall Varsity League at Baseball USA, the Thunder led Memorial's Varsity 4-1, until the Mustangs staged a furious comeback in the bottom of the 7th to nip the Thunder 5-4. After going 7-3 against 5A competition in the fall, a Spring win should earn extra respect for our homeschool program.

Then, on April 7th, the Thunder travel to 4A El Campo, boasting a 9-3 record, including several wins against 5A teams, an 18-1 drubbing of Sam Houston is especially worth noting.

If we've learned anything this season, it's that, when focused and mistake free, this team is capable of playing with almost anyone. It will definitely take the Thunder's best to finish strong and build momentum heading into this year's Regionals, where the Dallas Angels, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and others will be back again with strong teams.


March 19, 2009

The first-ever meeting between the Thunder and Panthers hopefully, won't be the last. On a very warm spring afternoon, in a great setting for high school baseball, West Houston and St. Pius settled in for a classic pitchers duel, with the Panthers riding just one big inning to a 4-1 win.

For four innings, Thunder starter Aaron Zwahr and Panthers hard-throwing ace, Hunter Stevens, were locked into a tense pitching battle, each backed by solid defensive efforts. After 5 1/2 innings, West Houston and St. Pius were deadlocked in a scoreless tie.

In the bottom of the 5th, the Panthers, who had managed just 3 hits to this point off Zwahr, used two walks, a single, a double and an error to bust out to a 4-0 lead.

The Thunder finally got to Stevens in the top of the 6th, as Cheo Jauregui led off with a double to the left field wall. He moved to 3rd on a groundout, then scored on Colby Stafford's grounder to 2nd base, to close the gap to 4-1. The Thunder then quickly mounted another serious threat, loading the bases when Zwahr reached 1st on an error, TC Cooper singled up the middle, and Richard Ownby walked. At that point, Stevens was replaced by Panthers reliever, Jeff Ronczy, who got Josh Boothe to fly out to right to get out of the inning.

Ownby relieved Zwahr in the bottom of the 6th, and after giving up a single, quickly got out of the inning unscathed. In the top of the 7th, Jauregui collected his second hit of the game, but was left stranded on base. Jauregui was the only one in the Thunder lineup with multiple hits, TC Cooper and Boothe picked up the only other Thunder hits, as Stevens and Ronczy combined to 4-hit West Houston. Meanwhile Zwahr and Ownby limited St. Pius to just six hits for the game.

With the college prospects sprinkled throughout the Panthers lineup, including at least one already committed to a Division I, SEC school, the tough contest that was anticipated by all, materialized, but the Thunder rose to the occasion. Heading into next weeks action, West Houston now slips to 11-3 on the year.

Panthers' Comeback Edges Thunder JV, 5-4

Facing their stiffest competition to date, the West Houston Thunder JV may have played their best baseball of the season, but critical errors late in the game enabled St. Pius to pull out a 5-4 victory Thursday afternoon.

The Thunder fell behind 1-0 in the bottom of the 1st, but quickly came back to score four runs in the top of the 2nd, for a 4-1 lead. Cheo Jauregui followed up his commanding performance against Sealy on Tuesday, with a gutsy effort against a talented Panther lineup, scattering six hits in his five innings of work. St. Pius closed the gap to 4-3 in the bottom of the 2nd, and tied it at 4 in the 5th. Sean Heaney relieved Jauregui in the 6th.

The Panthers took advange of a base hit, and two Thunder errors on hard hit shots, to push across the winning run.

Michael Wolfskill doubled in the 7th to put the tying run in scoring position, but was left stranded when the Thunder couldn't produce a clutch hit to bring him home.

Each team had 7 hits in this evenly matched, and well played game. The Thunder JV drops to 4-2, with Monday's meeting with Lutheran North looming.


March 18, 2009

Paying a visit to the high school home of NFL Hall of Famer, Eric Dickerson, the West Houston Thunder stunned the large home crowd and the Sealy Tigers, 5-2 Tuesday night.

Starting on the mound, TC Cooper dominated the Tiger lineup, striking out seven, tossing a no-hitter for four innings, and surrendering just one unearned run. Richard Ownby was also impressive over the final three innings, striking out four, while scattering five hits, and giving up one run. The combined 11 strikeouts are a season high for Thunder pitchers.

Offensively, the Thunder started slowly, perhaps due in part to the long lay-off caused by the rainout of the Burton Tournament last week, which washed away a highly anticipated matchup with 5A Westside in the first round. But the Thunder bats awoke, led by Cooper, who added to his amazing slugging percentage of .927 coming into the game, with two hits, including a double. Daniel Wolfskill and Colby Stafford also doubled for the Thunder who wound up with seven hits for the game.

The Thunder now stands at a glittering 11-2, but it only gets tougher from here. Major challenges lie ahead, starting with St. Pius on Thursday, followed by Kinkaid, and in the coming weeks, 4A El Campo, 5A Memorial High and Episcopal to name just a few leading up to Regionals in Dallas.

It's A Thunder Storm: JV Pours Down on Sealy, 19-2

West Houston scored runs in big chunks on Tuesday afternoon in Sealy, putting up four in the 1st, eleven in the 2nd, and adding four more in the 5th to overwhelm the Tigers, 19-2.

Cheo Jauregui pitched well in his start on the hill, holding Sealy hitless and scoreless through two. Daniel Miller finished the last 3 innings, giving up just four hits and two runs. Both pitchers were backed by some defensive gems from Sean Heaney at 2nd base, who turned several hard hits off the Tigers' bats into routine outs. Robert Uehlinger also made a nice catch in right field on the only ball to make it out of the infield, in the air.

Josh Booth continued his torrid streak at the plate, picking up where he left off in the Anderson Tourney, when he hit over .600 and was selected to the all-tournament team, collecting three more hits. Evan Cokinos had two hits, ripping both for doubles into the left-center gap, and Michael Wolfskill also had a pair of hits. In all, the Thunder pounded out 10 hits along the way.

With the easy win over 3A Sealy, the Thunder JV improves to 4-1 on the season, with St. Pius coming up on Thursday.