Hillerman throws three-hitter for Mustangs

The Minarets baseball team (11-9, 4-2 West Sequoia League), enjoyed another stellar pitching performance last week as Riley Hillerman took the mound, beating the Parlier Panthers 3-0.

Working the inside and outside corners of the plate, Hillerman kept the Panthers at bay through seven strong innings, surrendering three hits, one walk, and throwing 70% strikes. It was his fourth win of the season. The junior has a 2.95 ERA in 10 appearances.

It was a pitchers duel into the fifth inning when the Panthers issued back to back walks to Christian Conti and Bendan Bourdet, who were sacrificed into scoring position by catcher Connor Reardon. Then Hayden Alford, the Mustangs second basemen, singled to right, scoring both runners.

Coach Don Watkins’ Mustangs would score another run in the top of the seventh as Bourdet started the inning off with a single to right. Again the Mustangs called on the “small ball” game, with Reardon and freshman Jacob Cullen sacrificing Bourdet to third, where he later scored on a delayed steal by Alford. Alford leads the team with 17 stolen bags in 19 games.

Red Cats down Mustangs 12-3

On April 24, the Mustangs hosted Fowler in a showdown with first place in league on the line, losing 12-3. The Mustangs wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as lead-off hitter Alford singled and was sacrificed into scoring position by Andrew Carrick. The Mustangs left fielder has become a specialist at dropping down the sacrifice bunt for his team, moving runners into scoring position.

Senior Justin McLoed singled advancing Alford to third. With runners at the corners the Mustangs again executed the delayed steal to perfection, drawing a throw to second base, allowing Alford to score from third, with McLeod taking second. Hillerman then singled to give the Mustangs an early 2-0 lead. The Red Cats came back to score two in the top of the third.

It remained tied until Fowler took advantage of a walk as Alford showed signs of fatigue after throwing 92 pitches. Another walk, along with an error, and Fowler had bases loaded and no outs. The following batter doubled to the fence and the Red Cats went on to score four runs in the inning and a 6-2 lead.

The Mustangs answered with one run in the fifth when Alford worked a walk to open the inning. Carrick would follow with another walk. After a fielders choice, Alford would score on an error to pull the Mustangs within three runs, down 6-3. That’s as close as the Mustangs would get as the Red Cats went on a scoring tear with six more runs in the next two inning to put the game out of reach, 12-3.

The Mustangs were held to six hits over the seven innings, with singles by Hillerman, Reardon and triples by McLeod and Cullen.

McLeod, who is hitting .559 on the season (30th in the state), went 3-4 on the day. He is leading the Mustangs with 22 RBIs and ranks 51st in the state with an on base percentage of .620.

The Mustangs travel to Riverdale and Fresno Christian this week. The Mustangs beat Riverdale 18-1 in their first meeting as well as the Eagles of Fresno Christian, 20-7 April 14th. At 4-2, the Mustangs are tied for 2nd place with Fowler in league, Caruthers is 5-1 with their only loss coming at the hands of Minarets.

Softball team loses twice

The Minarets High School softball team will have to wait till next year for their chance at a West Sequoia League title, after dropping two league games last week (3-0 to Parlier - 10-2 to Fowler) eliminating the team from contention for the title.

First year head coach Ginny Taylor’s squad is loaded with talent but has struggled to play through adversity this season. That was the case April 23, as the Mustangs traveled to Parlier to take on the Panthers (1-14, 2-4). The Mustangs beat Parlier 10-0 earlier in the season.

Panther’s pitcher Alisha Beltran struck out the side in the first inning, and went on to record 11 strike outs, and giving up just two hits in the Panther’s 3-0 win. Mustang junior Kelea Kamalani started for the Mustangs and was the victim of a couple base hits along with two walks that gave the Panthers all the run support they would need.

Baylee Avina releived Kamalani in the second inning and pitched a great game, surrendering three hits, and three walks over the next six innings.

Kamalani gave the Mustangs their best chance at scoring when she doubled to the fence in the third inning but was called out stealing third with a head first slide as she appeared to beat the tag. Kamalani also did her part in keeping the Mustangs in the game making two “big” plays, throwing out Panther runners attempting to steal.

With their season on the line, the Mustangs were facing a “must win” scenario as Fowler came to O’Neals last Thursday. The Red Cats beat Minarets 3-2 on April 13 in the clubs first meeting.

Kamalani took the mound for the Mustangs and was touched for two unearned runs in the first the inning. A Red Cats single opened the inning, followed by a walk and a passed ball, putting runners at first and third with two outs. A miss-played single up the middle gave Fowler the early lead. They would go on to add a run on a passed ball in the sixth.

Down 3-0, catcher Miranda Gonzalez was hit by a pitch, and shortstop Patricia Thomasian followed with a single to advance Gonzalez to third. Left fielder Gianna Paolinelli singled to left, driving in Gonzales. Second baseman Delaney Reardon then singled to score Thomasian and the Mustangs were down 3-2.

With one out and runners at first and second, Aurora Middleton hit a grounder back to the pitcher who threw to third to record the force, the problem, but the Fowler shortstop interfered with the Paolinelli while advancing to third. What should have been an interference on the shortstop, ruled interference on the runner, although the shortstop had no play on the comeback hit to the pitcher.

After several minutes of discussion, the call was up held and what should have been a bases loaded situation with one out, ended the Mustangs chance at tying the game. The wheels came off in the top of the 7th as Fowler took charge, scoring seven runs to put the game on ice as well as the Mustangs league hopes.

The Mustangs play the 22-5 Cowboys of Riverdale and Fresno Christian this week.