Vargas lifts Fulshear to bi-district playoff sweep
FULSHEAR—Fulshear baseball coach Robb Jensen has a ridiculous wealth of quality pitching. There are at least five quality arms the veteran coach can turn to at any given time, which is quite the luxury to have during the postseason.
The best of those is University of Houston commit Austin Vargas, a hard-throwing junior left-hander who stands 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds. Coming off a perfect game against Rosenberg Terry on April 27 in which he struck out 17 on only 83 pitches, Vargas was strong again in the Chargers’ Class 5A-Region III bi-district playoff opener Friday against Houston Austin at home.
Vargas faced only 11 batters over three innings, striking out eight, walking three and allowing no runs or hits over 51 pitches to lead Fulshear to a 10-0 Game 1 win in five innings. The Chargers (19-9-1) followed that with an 11-4 win in Game 2 to sweep Austin (13-10-1) and advance to the area playoffs next week.
“I felt the first two innings were good. I kind of got in my head in the third inning,” said Vargas, who gave up two walks in his final frame. “But I got it back together. Gave up no runs, so it was a good outing.”
Vargas tops out at 92 miles per hour on his fastball and sits around 89-91. But he hasn’t always thrown hard.
He was throwing 79-81 miles per hour as a freshman. The following summer, he trained with Derrick Spivey, owner of Performance Edge HTX who specializes in player development and data analysis.
“He really broke everything down and told me what to do,” Vargas said. “Everything changed from there.”
Since then, Vargas has been electric. He has a devastating slider to accompany his fastball. His curveball hovers around 78 miles per hour.
“His swagger, his pitch mix, his location. His movement,” senior catcher Hudson Yarbrough said. “All that. It’s like catching a pro.”
.@AustinV0914 strikes out the side in the second inning. He\u2019s got five strikeouts so far, no hits, one walk. #txhsbaseball @Fulshear_Bsballpic.twitter.com/UJByFDkB9N— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1651879303
Vargas said his improvement has come more mentally than anything else. Instead of just throwing every pitch as hard as he can, which was his M.O. last year, Vargas’ focus has been pounding the strike zone.
Twenty-nine of Vargas’ 51 pitches against Austin were strikes.
His demeanor is also better.
“Mentally, I was a very angry person last year,” Vargas said. “Every time I’d walk somebody or make a mistake, I’d get down on myself. Now when something like that happens, I step off the mound, rub my hair and reset. Focus on the next guy. One batter doesn’t affect a whole game. Just relax.”
This season, Vargas is 5-2 with a 2.36 ERA and 96 strikeouts to 27 walks with a .154 batting-average against.
Fulshear started another Class of 2023 NCAA Division I pitcher in Game 2 in junior right-hander Regan Carter, a Pacific commit who breezed through two innings on 27 pitches, striking out three, walking one and allowing no hits or runs.
.@Fulshear_Bsball is starting their second Class 2023 NCAA D1 Commit of the evening in RHP @reganC36. He\u2019s a @PacificBaseball commit. Has allowed no hits and struck out three through two so far. #txhsbaseballpic.twitter.com/6wpnNH4b2E— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1651886522
“Austin and Regan, I think, are the best two in the state, and I think we’re going to go super far with them,” Yarbrough said. “They don’t make me work a lot. They throw strikes. They don’t really miss that much.”
Out of the bullpen, the Chargers used sophomore right-hander Matt Macklin, sophomore left-hander Caven Fuentes, freshman right-hander Jaden Loggins, freshman right-hander Ty Powell and junior right-hander Tyler Schumann. They gave up a combined four runs on four hits over seven innings, striking out 12 and walking four.
“It’s amazing,” Vargas said. “I feel like if I get pulled from the game, we can rely on any guy coming in. It’s nice to know that.”
The Chargers’ bats accounted for 21 runs on 20 hits with 14 walks to five strikeouts. Schumann had a two-run home run. Layne Arroyos went 5-for-6 with five RBIs. Powell walked four times and had a two-run single.
Fulshear has surrendered 97 runs in 29 games.
“Our pitching brings the energy,” said Yarbrough, “and then our bats feed off that.”