After a great start to the baseball season, the Minarets Mustangs (15-11, 5-5 West Sequoia League) settled into mediocre baseball the rest of the way, going .500 in West Sequoia League play.
The Mustangs finished league play in third place behind Caruthers and undefeated Fowler.
In a year which they were picked to bring home their first league title since 2014’s CIF Central Section D-V winning team, the Mustangs played down to their opponents game after game, allowing teams to stay in games long enough to steal a win. Turmoil from within didn’t help the Mustangs as they ended league play dismissing their starting shortstop with two weeks remaining in league.
For a team loaded with talent but unable to play clean baseball, Minarets committed 40 errors on the season, many times in groups, sealing their fate in close games. Pitching was usually strong, but defense and lack of execution plagued the Mustangs time and again in close games. Breaking down by position, the Mustangs could compete on any given day and also let up on any given day.
In their first round playoff game against Rosamond after receiving the No. 5 seed, the Mustangs hosted the No. 12 seed Roadrunners, a team with hustle and heart. Aaron Hall took the mound for the Mustangs, striking out two in the first.
The Roadrunners walked two, and E.G.Walden sacrificed both runners into scoring position. Two more walks and the Mustangs led 1-0.
The Mustangs would score again in the fourth after Drew Robertson reached second base on a Rosamond throwing on an error, and moved to third on a balk. Matt Blumberg followed with an RBI fly ball to right, and the Mustangs took a 2-0 lead after four innings.
Hall walked the first two Roadrunners to start the fifth inning, and the next batter sacrificed runners to second and third. After a failed bunt, Moises Gonzales followed with a double to score both runners and tie the game at 2-2.
With a runner at third with two outs, Hall walked his third batter of the inning to put runners at the corners. An error at third base would allow the Roadrunners to plate their third run of the inning to take a 3-2 lead.
It would remain that way until the bottom of the seventh, when Rosamond did all they could to hand the Mustangs a victory, loading the bases off walks and three wild pitches. Minarets would tie the game 3-3 off another walk, but were unable to deliver the game-winning hit, sending the game to extra innings following a strikeout and pop up.
Mustangs reliever Tyler Painter struggled finding the plate while throwing three wild pitches. A single, followed by a stolen base and wild pitch had Rosamond with a runner on third with no outs. A bloop single gave the Roadrunners the lead, and runners at first and second.
The Mustangs recorded the next two outs - a line drive to Jacob Cullen and a foul ball caught by catcher Connor Reardon gave the Mustangs a bit of momentum. A hit to left loaded the bases, after a laser throw from Walden to home prevented the Roadrunners from scoring but Painter walked the next batter to give Rosamond a 5-3 lead.
That’s how the Mustang season would end as they were unable to score in the bottom of the eighth.
It’s all about throwing strikes, and both teams struggled from the first inning. Minarets stranded 11 runners during the game, unable to come up with a big hit when they needed it.
It will be back to the drawing board next season for coach Jesse Darrah as he loses seven seniors, including five starters. Left will be Hall, who led the Mustangs in all pitching categories, along with the Painter brothers and starting second baseman Chris Bowe.