Daniel Castano cranked a difference-making home run and cranked out pitch after pitch in a complete game win over Westlake Friday night.
Castano’s three-run shot in the bottom of the first put Lake Travis up 3-0, and Nico Escalante added a two-run homer three batters later en route to a 5-1 win at Cavalier Stadium. Castano allowed just one unearned run and struck out eight in the win.
The win gave Lake Travis at least a share of the district title as the Cavs finish 9-3 in District 15-5A.
“He brought it up a little bit and i just got the barrel through and I knew it was gone when I hit it,” Castano said. “It felt good to finally get one. The pitching’s been pretty good and I finally got the big hit.”
In the first, Tyler Payne walked to lead things off, followed by a single by Baker Mayfield and fielder’s choice on a bunt by Brent Triolo. With two on, Castano sent a hanging curveball over the right-field fence for all the run support he’d need in a seven-inning effort on the mound.
“The idea is win by one – we won by four,” Lake Travis coach Roy Kinnan said. “They’re a good ballclub. They battled us. What it comes down is you’ve gotta play seven.
Cameron Vilven was hit by a pitch that went off his helmet after Castano’s at-bat, and left briefly for a pinch runner. An error advanced Hunter Hendrix to second, after getting checked out Vilven reentered at second base. He wasn’t there long as Escalante got ahold of one and sent it out to left for a 5-0 lead after one.
A runner reached in each of the first three innings for Westlake, but each time Castano worked out of it, even striking out the side after the first two batters reached in the third.
The senior lefty was motivated to win this game after Westlake won the first district contest in extra innings, a game the Cavs led until the bottom of the seventh.
“There was a lot of tension that whole game,” Castano said. “I wasn’t gonna let that happen again at home. I feel like a different pitcher at home. My team had my back as always. We were relaxed, even when we made a couple of errors we didn’t let it get to us, we kept playing. It showed how we matured.”
An error, then a two-out walk and error loaded the bases and a single that barely escaped the infield dirt led to the Chaparral’s first run in the fifth, but Castano got a strikeout to limit the damage.
Before the game Lake Travis had another player get hit by a ball in the head when a stray ball struck catcher Wayne Figg in the cheek. He refused to leave and played the entire game, leaving to possibly get stitches following the win.
“He kind of forgot about it during the game,” Castano said. “He’s awesome, he battles. He watches films before the games with me. We’re thinking the entire time we’re working together.”
Lake Travis nearly was able to add to its lead in the third. Vilven reached on an error, Drew Judson singled and with two outs, Troy Carter sent one deep to center field only to have Westlake’s Alex Cabezas make an amazing catch that saved at least two, if not three runs.
All three Cavs’ losses in district were by one run.
“You think about three one-run losses in district and we could as easily have one loss as we do three,” Kinnan said. “That’s baseball, that’s the great, great part of this game. You’ve got to come play every night.”
Westlake (8-3) and Bowie (8-3) still have one district game left to play April 26, and tiebreaking scenarios could follow that.
If the three teams tie, there will be tiebreaking games starting April 27.
Lake Travis beat Bowie twice, Westlake and the Cavs split their two games this season, as did Westlake and Bowie.
“It’s theirs to lose,” Castano said. “We’re sitting pretty right now. It’s a waiting game for us. We’ll be ready for Saturday. Me and (fellow starting pitcher) Connor (Mayes) will be ready to go.”