After coming up one game short last baseball season, the No. 1 seed Minarets High Mustangs (28-5) won their first D-VI CIF Central Section title with a thrilling 3-2 win over No. 2 Farmersville May 24 at Rawhide Park in Visalia.
The game became a battle of pitchers as Minaret's Sam Reyes blanked the Aztecs for six innings, taking a no hitter into the seventh. Farmersville's Greg Torres was nearly as good, keeping Minarets off balance most of the game, changing speeds and sneaking in the curve ball for big strikes when he needed it. Reyes finished the game with 14 strikeouts.
The high powered Mustangs offense, averaging better then 10 runs per game on the season, found themselves in a low scoring battle with the Aztecs. The Mustang running game (232 stolen bases) was held in check as Farmersville coach John Alves prepared his team well for the division championship showdown. Aztec pitchers slowed the pace of the game as they threw over to first base time and time again during the game, picking off two Mustangs in the process.
Mustang senior Sam Romero opened the second inning reaching first on an error. A balk advanced Romero into scoring position for Reyes who doubled scoring Romero for the Mustangs first run. A hit batter and an infield single by Justin McLeod loaded the bases. Torres walked Cedar Robertson to score the Mustangs second run of the innings. The score would stay 2-0 though six innings.
The Aztec's Jesse Hernandez opened the seventh inning with a hit over second base to break up Reyes' no hitter. Isaiah Hernandez then had a bloop single to right and the Aztecs had two on with no outs.
Mustang Coach Don Watkins summoned senior Chance Carter from the bullpen to relieve. Hours earlier Carter had been involved in a car accident on his way to the game, which sent himself and his passengers to the hospital. The senior arrived in the dugout as the game started.
An errant pick off throw to first base put the Aztec runners on second and third. A wild pitch put Farmersville on the board and placed the tying run at third. A routine ground ball resulted in an error by short stop Reyes allowing Farmersville to tie the game before the Mustangs got the next two outs.
With momentum switching to Farmersville and their fans on their feet, Minarets center fielder Cedar Robertson silenced the crowd by driving reliever Sam Metcalfs fastball to the right/center gap for a lead off triple in the bottom of the seventh. With the Minarets team perched on the dugout steps, Jordan Christian delivered a game winning sacrifice fly to deep right field to bring Robertson home and give Minarets their first Sectional Title.
"What a game going into the seventh, before our last at bat, I told the boys that second place wasn't good enough and we deserved to be here,a Watkins said. "I asked them how bad do you want it? I never had a doubt that we would finish the game with a win. It was a great way to end the season with my special group of seniors."
The Mustangs finished the season with the second best win-loss record in California. The teams starts are impressive, leading the state in several categories.