Looking to make a push for the West Sequoia league title, the Minarets Mustangs (12-8-1, 4-2 WSL) sit in second place, tied with Caruthers (12-8-1, 4-2). The Mustangs solidified that position with an 11-2 thumping of the Blue Raiders April 29.
The win sent a message to the Fowler Redcats (14-7-1, 6-0 WSL) that the race for the league title is far from over.
Coach Jesse Darrah sent Tyler Painter to the mound in the Caruthers game. The freshman is pitching like a well-seasoned veteran, giving the Mustangs workhorse, senior Riley Hillerman, some innings at third base.
Painter went the distance, throwing 96 pitches in seven innings, while surrendering six hits and walking one. The seventh frame was his longest of the game as Caruthers scored an unearned run to complete their scoring on the day.
The Mustangs had 18 hits as the bats came alive in the second inning. Painter helped his own cause with a two-run double to open the scoring for Minarets. Hayden Alford followed with a single for an RBI and the third Mustangs run of the inning. In the top of the third, Alford would put an end to a promising Caruthers inning with an unassisted double play.
In the third frame the Mustangs added two more runs. With bases loaded and two outs, the Mustangs’ other starting freshman, Aaron Hall, doubled to center for two RBIs, putting the Mustangs in the driver’s seat up 5-0. The Blue Raiders scored an unearned run in the top of the fourth to show signs of life and make it 5-1 entering the fifth inning.
Painter went to work, striking out four in the next two frames as the Blue Raiders showed signs of frustration. Minarets put it away in the six inning as they plated six runs to put the game on ice. Senior Christian Low doubled down the left field line to score two runs. Hillerman followed with a single to put runners at the corners for Hunter Thompson. The junior drove a fastball to the warning track for a double to score another Mustangs run.
Brenden Bourdet then stepped to the plate and delivered a hit to center for yet another Mustangs RBI. Painter continued that success with a single to score his brother Matt as the Mustangs bats came alive.
The Mustangs are a different team playing on their home field and their record reflects it. With Fowler beating Parlier 5-3 Friday the table is set for a showdown against the Redcats. Fowler is undefeated in league and traveled to Minarets May 3, during a Military Appreciation Game organized by Hall. The score was not available at press time.
A tough first inning by freshman Hall, including three walks and a two-run double cost Minarets the win in the clubs first meeting, a 4-2 loss April 12. The pen will be well rested and healthy should Darrah choose either a left or right-handed pitcher, and with the emergence of Painter, the Mustangs rotation is looking the strongest in league play.
Minarets will need to remain focused should they beat Fowler. Parlier (9-10, 1-5 WSL) will visit O'Neals Friday, May 6. The Panthers lost 7-2 the first time the teams played Feb. 28.
The Mustangs will need a little help from the rest of the league should they win out the season. With a win against Fowler, Minarets will still trail by one win to the Redcats. Caruthers, playing Fowler May 13, could decide which team wins the title or if the title ends with a tie.