Last week was a good week for the Minarets Mustangs as they climbed back into the West Sequoia League race by soundly defeating Caruthers 10-1 for their first league loss on the season, and beating Riverdale in extra innings 2-1.
It was the complete game, six-hit pitching of Aaron Hall against Caruthers that put the Mustangs back in the thick of the league race. Minarets jumped out quick with two runs in the first frame, with the first run coming from a Christian Conti run scoring RBI single. The Mustangs would go on to score one run in the third, two in the fourth, and another five in the fifth inning.
Hall ended the game adding 11 strikeouts to his team-leading 50. He has 61 Ks in just 37 innings of work, and is now 4-1 with a 1.5 ERA on the season. He’s allowed eight earned runs in that stretch.
Jacob Cullen led the Mustangs with 2 RBIs. The Mustangs stole five bases in the game, a drastic improvement, and the kind of base running the Mustangs need if they hope to contend for the title.
Extra innings win over Riverdale
Now back in the race, Minarets hosted the Riverdale Cowboys (9-11), a team getting better each week and they showed the Mustangs why, holding them scoreless for six innings, while scoring one unearned run.
The Mustangs had scoring opportunities but an attempted steal of home in the sixth resulted in the second out of the inning and then the third out came from a runner getting picked off by a trailing shortstop.
It would have been a tough loss had the Mustangs not rallied in the seventh for the tying run and go on to win in extra innings.
With runners at first and second, the Mustangs hit into a double play to put a runner at third with two down. E.G.Walden delivered with a single to tie the game. He would also help in the field, following a leadoff walk by Thompson, Walden caught a sinking ball and threw behind the over aggressive runner at first to record the double play.
In the top of the eighth Conti drew a walk, followed by a double from Thompson and things were looking pretty good for the Mustangs. But it didn’t go as expected, an over aggressive lead came back to bit the Mustangs as Conti was picked off, with the winning run 90 feet away and one out. Walden was on deck and proceeded to single to the right-center gap to score Thompson for a Mustangs come-from-behind win, thus keeping their playoff hopes alive.
Minarets will have their biggest challenge of the season as the host Fowler this Friday, needing a win to stay in contention. A win will have them in second place, trailing by a game. The league title could very well come down to the last games of the season against Fowler (15-4, 5-0 WSL) and the Blue Raiders of Caruthers (17-6, 3-2 WSL). The Mustangs will need to win out and get a bit of help from the rest of the league, the Redcats beat Caruthers 6-0 April 21 to remain undefeated in league play. Back-to-back losses have the Blue Raiders tied for second place in the standings, with Minarets at 3-2.