It’s been a ‘one step forward, two steps back’ season for the Minarets Mustangs baseball team (12-8, 2-3 West Sequoia League). After defeating Caruthers last week to climb back into the WSL race, the Mustangs faced a must win against league leading Fowler (15-5, 6-0 WSL) last Friday. Mustang pitcher Aaron Hall started on the mound, allowing just four earned runs, but the Mustangs defense allowed another six as Fowler came out on top 10-4.
The Mustangs were hoping to take advantage of the home crowd who gathered to celebrate the military, in what has become an annual event at Minarets - a senior legacy event put on by Hall along with Blake DeMaria and their families.
Fowler’s leadoff hitter greeted Hall with a double to the fence. The following batter hit a high hopper to short, resulting in a throwing error, followed by another throwing error as the ball was thrown to second in an attempt to get the advancing runner. The ball ended up in left field and Fowler led 1-0, with two errors in the first three at bats. A triple followed by a double and the Redcats were staking their claim early on.
They would go on to add one more run and take a commanding 5-0 lead going into the bottom half of the first inning.
Mustang leadoff hitter Chris Bowe opened the Minarets batting with a double, but was doubled off by a line drive hit by Hall to first base. A strikeout ended the first inning for the Mustangs.
Fowler wasted little time in piling it on with the aid of two walks and hit batsman that loaded the bases.
With one out in the bottom of the second, Thompson’s pop-up was anything but easy with winds gusting up to up to 30 mph. The ball dropped between three Redcat defenders and Thompson ended up at second base. Already in scoring position, Thompson attempted to steal third and was thrown out, ending a Mustangs scoring threat.
Tyler Painter would relieve Hall following 2 2/3 innings in which he surrendered eight hits and nine runs (four earned), with six errors committed behind him. Painter would quiet the Fowler bats in the third inning and the Mustangs would break through in the bottom of the frame, as designated hitter Matt Blumberg drove a ball to the left center gap to lead off the third. He would later score on a passed ball to put the Mustangs on the board 7-1.
Painter recorded two outs in the top of the fourth before a single gave the Redcats a runner at first. A hard hit ball to Christian Conti at short looked to end the inning but he over threw to first, placing runners at the corners with two away. The next Fowler batter hit a line drive up the middle, scoring both runners for a 9-1 lead.
Blumberg scored the second Mustang run on a wild pitch following a walk, ground out, and sacrifice. The Mustangs would end the inning trailing 9-2. Another error at shortstop would give the Redcats another scoring opportunity with runners at the corners in the fourth. A fly ball hit to right resulted in another error for the Mustangs as the ball dropped out of EG Wardens mitt for another Fowler unearned run.
The game ended 10-4 Fowler after a few Mustangs scores.
The Mustangs will need to regroup as they finish out WSL play and look forward to a playoff run. With a three game lead the Redcats have all but secured another league title. Minarets plays at Riverdale May 2, then hosts Parlier on May 5.