The Minarets Mustangs (12-10, 5-3 WSL) trying to defend their West Sequoia League title, started last week by running wild on Riverdale (2-18, 0-8) April, 28.
Riley Hillerman (5-2) took the mound for the Mustangs and held the Cowboys scoreless into the third inning when back-to-back batters reached without swinging the bat. Two hit batters and a single up the middle, gave the Cowboys a short lived lead, 1-0. Minarets answered with two runs in the top of the fourth as Justin McLeod and Hillerman scored off a single by center fielder, Christian Low. The sophomore stole second and took third on a Cowboy error, then stole home on the following pitch to put the Mustangs up 3-2.
In the top of the sixth, Brendan Bourdet drew a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Drew Robertson. The sophomore stole second, advanced on another Cowboy error and later scored off Hillerman’s single to center. Everyone got in on the scoring as the Mustangs went on to drive in six runs in the inning. At the end of sixth the Mustangs held a commanding 9-2 lead and cruised the 12-3 final.
The Mustangs collected nine hits in the game, with Hayden Alford going 3 for 5; Low, 2 for 3; and Hillerman, 2 for 2. Hillerman picked up his fifth win on the season, throwing 4.1 innings and surrendering four hits, while striking out five, adding to his 43 Ks in 44 innings pitched.
Fresno Christian beats Mustangs
After taking advantage of eight errors committed by the Riverdale, the Mustangs returned the favor in a league showdown against the Eagles of Fresno Christian. At 13-7 (3-5), the Eagles have surrendered 82 runs on the year, compared to the Mustangs 42.
The two friendly rivals took the field, a win for the Eagles would be the feather in their cap on a so-so season. As in many games, base-on-balls would be the difference in the 10-9 victory for the Eagles, the Mustangs issued seven free bags, via the walk, five of which would come around to score as the Eagles took advantage of each error along with the seven walks to steal a win from the Mustangs and drop them from contention for the defending their first West Sequoia League title.
In contrast, the Eagles threw strikes and issued just one walk through seven innings. Hayden Alford, 4-4, started for the Mustangs, Alford and Hillerman are tied with 46 Ks each.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the 1st inning, Minarets answered as Alford scored on a wild pitch after doubling to centerfield. The Eagles scored three in the bottom of the frame to take a 4-1 lead as walks and errors opened the door for Fresno Christian and the Eagles plated two unearned runs.
The Mustangs infield hit by Drew Robertson, along with a timely error and a balk call aided Minarets as they took the lead 5-4 following hits by McLeod and Hillerman. The Eagles answered with two runs to take a 6-5 lead going into the sixth.
The Mustangs started the sixth drawing a walk from Cullen, who scored on a double by Andrew Carrick. Carrick was replaced by senior Wayne Hatfield who scored after advancing on a passed ball and a single by McLeod, Mustangs 7-6. Again the walks and errors would come back to haunt the Mustangs as they watched the Eagles plate four runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 10-7 lead.
The Mustangs opened the top of the seventh with a single by Low, Christian Conti followed with a deep drive to center to put runners at first and second with no outs. A fielders choice and the Mustangs had two on with one out as Reardon’s swinging hit dropped between home and 3rd to load the bases.
Cullen proceeded to drive in the Mustangs eighth run with a single to center to pull the Mustangs to with-in two runs. Alford’s fielders choice scored Bourdet and advanced Reardon to third.
The Eagles next pitch sailed over the head of their catcher and Reardon broke for the plate, and was called out and the Eagles ended Senior day in grand fashion with a win against a Mustang team they had never beaten.
Both teams collected 16 hits in the see-saw battle, with walks and errors costing the Mustangs a chance at a second title from a younger team that was not expected to be in the mix after graduating all but two players from last year’s team.
The Mustangs will host Caruthers and Parlier in their final week of league play as they prepare to enter playoffs after being moved up to D-V after finishing last season ranked first in the state in D-V, although they played D-VI ball. At 12-10 the Mustangs are ranked No. 11 in MaxPreps playoff prediction. Caruthers is ranked ahead of Minarets at No. 7 which could change following the teams final week of play.