The Minarets Mustang baseball team (6-1) won its own “Battle on the Mountain” tournament in dramatic fashion last week.
After four wins and a 3-1 loss to Mariposa, the Mustangs qualified for the championship game against a familiar foe, the Chieftains of Sierra.
After two scoreless innings the Mustangs Connor Reardon drew a walk, was sacrificed to second, advanced on a wild pitch, then scored on a Drew Robertson double to give Minarets a 1-0 lead.
The Chieftains answered in the top of the fourth with 3 runs. It remained that way as the two teams played outstanding defense, with several runners being stranded in scoring position.
In the sixth inning, Robertson pulled his team closer with a single, a headfirst steal of second, advancing to third on a passed ball, then scoring on a wild pitch to make the score 3-2 after six innings. Hunter Thompson followed with a triple to put the tying run at third with two out, but the Mustangs failed to get Thompson home.
Robertson delivers winning hit
In the bottom of the seventh, Mustang senior Jacob Cullen singled and Reardon laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Cullen to scoring position. Leadoff hitter Aaron Hall followed with a single up the middle to score Cullen and tie the score at 3-3.
Robertson then delivered a walkoff double to score Hall from first and give the Mustangs the victory and tournament championship.
“Before the game we we’re telling everyone to be loud and keep the energy up, but the first couple inning we weren’t up,” Robertson said. “Then coming into the last inning we said we have to be loud ... I was smiling at the pitcher my last at bat ... it’s all about the mental focus.”
“We’re still making mistakes but we’re getting better,” said Head Coach Jesse Darrah. “I told our players earlier that the energy we bring to the field will determine if we win or lose. I’m so proud of our team, we won our tournament and we’re 6-1. I like where we are but we still have a ways to go to be where we need to be at the end of the season.”
On the way to the championship game the Mustangs beat Liberty 5-4, Sierra 2-1 and Washington Union 9-7. Hall took the loss against Mariposa, throwing a complete game while surrendering two earned runs. The Mustangs ‘lefty’ had 13 strikeouts on the game, allowing just one walk, while surrendering six hits. Thompson is 2-0 with 18 Ks, while Matt and Tyler Pinter each recorded wins in the tournament.
The Mustangs have three players hitting above .300 - Thompson leads the team at .450, including three doubles and one triple. Robertson is batting .435 and leads the Mustangs with 10 hits and six RBIs. Reardon is hitting .312 while becoming Darrah’s sacrifice specialist, with four RBIs including two suicide squeezes. Cullen is not far behind batting .294.
The Mustangs are on the road for three games. The team played at Lindsay Monday, will play at Fresno High on March 21 and at Mendota March 23.
Seven of the Mustangs next several games are on the road, a test of sorts to see if Darrah and his team can keep the energy up and the wins coming as they prepare for West Sequoia League play, with an opening game against Fowler on March 31.
JV team 7-0
Things are looking just as bright for the Mustangs JV team (7-0) that won the JV tournament.
Head Coach Becher Marr is pleased with his team.
“Awesome tournament ... our boys are hitting the ball great,” Marr said. “Made some JV mistakes but all in all, we played great. Connor Heidebrecht led with great hitting and pitching. He would be our tournament MVP.”