The Minarets Mustangs baseball team (7-1) continued its winning ways last week, beating Lindsay (4-6) on the road 7-2 March 14.
The Mustangs are off to their best start since winning their only section title in 2014. They are currently ranked No. 2 in the Central Section D-V rankings behind Central Valley Christian.
Coach Jesse Darrah’s club is climbing the state and national rankings according to maxpreps.com. Presently sitting at 117 in the state behind Clovis West (California has 765 high school teams). In comparison Yosemite (6-2) is ranked 195 in the state, and Sierra is at No. 253..
After two scoreless inning the Mustangs Hunter Thompson drove in Drew Roberson and Aaron Hall to put the Mustangs on the board. Thompson is hitting .478 on the season. The Cardinals would answer back with an unearned run to make it 2-1 after three innings.
After being hit by a pitch, Connor Reardon scored on an infield hit by Hall as Matt Blumberg advanced to third from a walk. Robertson then delivered a single to left, scoring Blumberg. Robertson would score the third run of the inning of another Thompson single, giving the Mustangs a 5-1 lead. Another Lindsay run in the bottom of the frame, and that would be as close as the Cardinals would get.
Tyler Painter opened the fifth with a double, later scoring following back-to-back wild pitches from the Cardinals pitcher. Lindsay loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth but Hall recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the Cardinal threat. In 20 innings, the Mustangs lefty has 36 strikeouts with a 3-1 win-loss record and a 1.75 ERA.
The Mustangs shortstop Christian Conti fought back from an 0-2 count to get a walk in the top of the sixth. He would steal second and come around to score on yet another Robertson single. The one-two punch of Robertson and Thompson are working well as Robertson is on the heels of Thompson in nearly every stats category. They are neck and neck in slugging percentage, with Thompson slugging .696 and Robertson .640. They are tied with 11 hits on the young season, while Robertson leads the Mustangs with 7 RBIs, one ahead of Thompson’s 6.
“I’m happy we won the game although we did not play to our potential ... any time you can get a W on the road we’ll take it,” said Darrah. “This team is a work in progress, but we are on the right path to achieving our goals this season.”
The Mustangs play 10 of their next 11 games on the road following a March 23 home game with Mendota (3-7). Mendota has surrendered 106 runs in 10 games. In contrast, the Mustangs have surrendered just 23 runs in 8 games (2.8 runs per game average).
After the Mendota game, the Mustangs will face Roosevelt (1-7) March 24 and Hoover (4-5) March 28. Minarets won’t play at home until April 18 against Caruthers. The team opens West Sequoia league play March 31 against Fowler (5-3).
Minarets will faced baseball D-II power Fresno High Warriors (8-3-1) on March 21 (scores unavailable at press time).The Warriors have impressive wins against Hanford, Redwood, Firebaugh and Central this season. Coach Jason Papi, son of Central Valley baseball legend Ken Papi, Jason’s bench coach, always fields a fundamentally sound team. The Warriors won the North Yosemite league last year with a 21-8 record, eventually losing 4-0 in the Sectional Title game to Mt. Whitney.