Its been a Jekyll and Hyde season for the Minarets Mustangs baseball team (10-7, 0-2 WSL). After starting the season 7-1, the Mustangs have struggled finding consistency between the lines going 3-6 after the promising start to the season.
Following a less then stellar performance in their loss to Fresno Christian (10-9), the Mustangs began their spring break playing in the 61st Annual Kiwanis Selma Easter Classic Tournament.
Minarets drew a 9 a.m. opening round game against Coalinga. The Mustangs scored one run in the opening frame to take a 1-0 lead into the fourth inning before Coalinga plated two runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 2-1 lead that would hold up until the top of the seventh.
With the help of two errors, the Mustangs scored five runs in the inning and held on for a 6-3 win to move into the winners bracket. Tyler painter and E.G. Walden each had two RBIs for the Mustangs.
Their good fortune was short lived as the faced Firebaugh directly following their win against Coalinga. Firebaugh, in their first game of the tourney, scored in every inning, out hitting the Mustangs 9-1 for a 10-0 win in six innings. After playing a flawless, errorless game against Coalinga, the Mustangs committed two costly errors extending innings and allowing runs for Firebaugh.
12 strikeouts for Hall
On April 11 the Mustangs went up against a tough Arvin team. With lefty Aaron Hall on the mound Coach Jesse Darrah was confident in the Mustangs ability to get back into the winner’s bracket.
Hall didn’t disappoint, throwing seven shutout inning with 12 strikeouts, while surrendering just three hits and one walk. It was scoreless going into the bottom of the seventh when a walk off error cost Arvin the win, attempting to throw out the lead runner going into third off a Chris Bowe bunt. An errant throw sailed into left field giving the Mustangs their second tournament win, 1-0, while Hall earned a complete game shutout.
Hall leads all Mustangs hurlers with 50 strikeouts in 30 innings of play and has a 1.6 ERA.
Minarets returned to Immanuel Sports complex to play their fourth game against Sierra Pacific. Pitching was the story in this match up, and the Mustangs had no match for the Hanford hurler. The Golden Bears stymied the Mustangs, winning 4-0.
The Mustangs also lost another player to ejection by the same umpire that ejected two Mustangs from the Fresno Christian game the week earlier.
The Mustangs returned to league play Tuesday against the Caruthers Blue Raiders (17-4, 3-0). Score not available at press time. The Blue Raiders are tied with Fowler for the league lead.
The Mustangs face a “must win” if they hope to be in the league title race. The good news for the Mustangs, should they pull off a home field upset, Caruthers will face Fowler April 21. With a little help from the Blue Raiders, as in a win against Fowler, it will once again be a three team race with the Mustangs still to play Fowler at Minarets and the Blue Raiders in Caruthers.
With Hall, who threw a spectacular 107 pitch performance in Fowler just two weeks ago, taking the loss behind a Mustangs defense that committed 4 errors in the game, they can make it a tight WSL race. If Jekyll can keep Hyde in-check, as in playing fundamentally sound defense, Minarets can find themselves right back in the thick of things.
The Mustangs can’t look past a scrappy Riverdale Cowboys team that started the season rough but has rebounded to a 9-10 record. There’s no place like home and the Mustangs will be playing their second consecutive game at home following a tough 10 straight games on the road. The Mustangs are 5-1 on their home field and will need the home crowd as they face a week of play that will clarify the league standings.
Hunter Thompson will take the mound for the Mustangs against Riverdale. At 3-2, Thompson ERA has jumped a bit after a tough loss against the Fresno Christian Eagles, but he is well able to shut down a team, having given up just 21 hits in 23 innings.