In just their second varsity season, the Minarets Mustangs baseball team (17-13, 7-3), will play for their first Central Section, Division IV championship after putting a 15-3 walloping on East Sierra League champion, Kings Christian (17-9, 9-1), in the second round of the play-offs, after receiving a first round bye.
The championship game against Sierra Pacific (15-7) was yesterday (Wednesday).
Last year, facing Mendota, as a team of mostly sophomores, the Mustangs played their way out of the championship game committing errors, opening the door for Mendota, as they went on to win the division title.
This year, the team is much better prepared. After playing a tough pre-season featuring games against eight Division 1 schools, the Mustangs went 7-3 in league, handing West Sequoia Champions, Caruthers, their lone league loss, a 7-3 Mustang victory.
Against Kings Christian last Wednesday, lead off batter, junior Cedar Robertson (.483 batting average), hit a slow roller, beating the throw to start off the first inning. After stealing second, Robertson came around to score on Sam Reyes' fly to center field giving the Mustangs their first run of the game. Junior Conly Biglione (.547), followed with a single to center, followed by Sam Romero's single. It was then Scott Parker's (.398) team leading third triple of the season, scoring Biglione and Romero and putting the Mustangs up 3-0 after one inning.
The Crusaders only base runner in the first inning was picked-off first base by Mustang catcher Keenan Reardon.
Junior pitcher Chance Carter (4-3,2.86 ERA) received the win. The Crusaders lone base runner in the first inning was picked off by Junior Catcher Keenan Reardon, as he strayed one step to many, off of first base. Carter would go on and two hit the Crusaders over four innings, striking out five batters to add to his 68 Ks in 45 innings on the season.
As Carter left the mound, the Mustangs had exploded for 15 hits and held a commanding 15-0 lead. The Mustang offense included 11 singles, two doubles by junior Zeb Patterson (.328) and Senior Matt Luce (.369), and triples by Romero (3 RBIs), Parker (2 RBIs) and Patterson (3 RBIs). Senior Tyson Conti added a home run, his second of the season.
Minarets ranks third in the Central Section with a team .364 batting average and remains No. 1 in the Central Section (32nd in the nation) with 162 stolen bases.
The Crusaders got three runs off freshman pitcher Riley Hillerman (1-0, 2.44 ERA), who was was brought up from the JV team for the play-offs. Senior Eric Pincus came in to pitch in the sixth inning. He had five Ks to add to his team leading 83, ranking him No. 9 in the Central Section. The Mustangs senior will be Mustangs first player to represent Minarets in the City/County game. this year's game will be played on June 6.
The Minarets Mustangs (17, 14), the No. 1 seed in Division VI in the Central Section baseball play-offs, managed just three hits in its 6-1 loss to No. 3 seed, Sierra Pacific of Hanford (16-7) in the section championship game May 22.
Sierra Pacific's Connor Mannix threw the three-hitter against the Mustangs. Chance Carter took the loss for the Mustangs.