The Minarets Mustangs (7-7, 0-0 WSL) returned to San Diego over the Easter break to defend their title after winning the Lions Invitational least year. The team has no returning starters from last year’s team, other then pitcher Riley Hillerman and utility player Justin McLeod.
This year’s team is in a rebuilding year, lone senior McLoed took his team of underclass men to the tournament hoping to come home with a winning record and some much needed experience before heading into league play. What the Mustangs did is amazing in itself, after rolling off three consecutive wins, the Mustangs found themselves playing in the semifinals, a win would put them in the championship game.
The first win came off a forfeit, up next was Kearney, at 4-7 the Komets were a good match for the young Mustangs squad. Minarets scored in the first when Hayden Alford singled and scored after stealing second and advancing to third off a MeLoed sacrifice fly. The Mustangs scored two more in the fourth scoring McLoed after a lead off single and Jacob Crossley scored off of Andrew Carrick's sacrifice fly.
The Mustangs sophomore catcher Connor Reardon led off the fifth with a double, advancing to third on an error, Hillerman's infield hit scored Reardon to put the Mustangs up 4-1. Christian Low's single to open the sixth and came around to score following an error off a hard hit ball by Reardon. The Mustangs would need every run as Kearney came back with a force in the bottom of the frame to pull to within one run.
McLoed took the ball in the Mustangs 3rd game and recorded a 7-6 win against Escondido Charter, Again it was Alford and McLoed setting the table for the Mustangs comeback. Trailing 5-2 entering the sixth the Mustangs erupted for three runs to tie the game and scored two more in the seventh to seal the win. McLoed was 4 of 5 on the day with three RBI's. Alford and Sophomore Drew Robertson collected two hits each.
The Mustangs took on Heritage Christian, 9-4, in a re-match of last year’s semifinal game. This time it would be the Warriors moving on to the championship game following a heart breaking 2-1 loss in eight innings. The Mustangs drew first blood following a single by Alford, Hillerman singled to center for the RBI, the bats would go silent until the Warriors scored in the third following a double and advancing to third on the throw. A sac fly would tie the game until the eighth inning.
Following a single by Heritage Christian, an error on a throw to first put the winning run on third with no outs. Coach Don Watkins ordered the next two batters walked to put the force play in effect. With bases loaded the Warriors were able to coax a walk to score the winning run and advance to the championship game.
In all it was a very successful trip for the young Mustangs, Minarets is putting the pieces together in hopes of defending their league title as well as sectional title. Fowler will be the first test for the Mustangs, Bill Fever's RedCats are 4-12 on the year. On paper the teams match up well, both are averaging four runs per game, with Fowler holding a bit of an advantage it hitting, batting .298 as a team compared to the Mustangs .254.
The Mustangs host the Riverdale Cowboys (2-10, 0-0 WSL) Friday, April 10.