The Minarets Mustangs (8-5) participated in the 60th Annual Kiwanis Classic tournament at Selma High School March 21 - 23, winning two games and losing two.
The Mustangs fell to the Immanuel Eagles 10-1 in the opening game of the tournament, ending a five game win streak.
Mustang Riley Hillerman took the mound against the 11-2 Eagles, while Immanuel’s Hans Brown started and surrendered a run to the Mustangs in the first inning which would be their only run of the game.
Hillerman pitched outstanding through four innings, but Mustang outfielders allowed two triples on missed fly balls early in the game. If not for the misplayed triples the Mustangs would have been down 2-1 going into the fifth inning.
The D-IV Eagles sit atop the Central Sequoia standings with two pitchers heading to college on scholarships next season. That, along with a very good hitting team, makes for a winning receipe.
On March 22, Minarets played the first half of a double header against the Golden Bears of Sierra Pacific, the same Bears that knocked off Minarets in the semifinals of sectional play last season. This time the Mustangs ended up on the winning end with a 3-1 win.
Mustangs freshman Aaron Hall took the mound and dominated through six innings, allowing just two hits and one run, while striking out four. Senior Christian Low pitched one inning to record the save for Minarets.
Hall helped his own cause going 2-for-3 with an RBI, and had one of the Mustangs’ three doubles on the day - the other two by Low and Christian Conti.
In the Mustangs third tournament game against the Sequoia Cherokees (10-4), the Mustangs put up three runs in the first inning, but the Cherokees answered back with two runs of their own off starter Hayden Alford as the Mustang pitchers struggled with control early on.
Sequoia put up three more runs in the third and another three in the fifth, to take a commanding 8-3 lead going into the sixth inning.
Minarets missed several opportunities early on with base running errors but were able to score two in the sixth.
Pitching would be the difference in this game as the Mustangs had only six hits on the game. Drew Robertson was 2-for-4 for Minarets.
Mustang pitchers hit six Cherokee batters in the game. That led to four unearned runs.
In the Mustangs last game of the tournament they faced the Mendota Aztecs, the same Aztecs they played to a tie in 11 innings two weeks prior.
Minarets took out their frustrations from that game and exploded for 10 runs in the first two innings and cruised to a 11-2 win with the help of 10 walks from Aztec pitchers.
Pitchers Conti, Hunter Thompson and Andrew Carrick combined to give up just two hits through seven innings, and recorded seven Ks.
Low led the Mustangs at the plate going 2-for-3.
The Mustangs open West Sequoia league play April 8 against defending champion Caruthers. The Blue Raiders are 6-5-1 on the season and are missing the firepower of seasons past as they have only two seniors on their young club.
In contrast the Mustangs are flush with experienced seniors and appear to be the team to beat as they head into league play. The Blue Raiders played Mendota on March 30, which gave the Mustangs a good idea how they will match up against Caruthers (game score not available at press time).
On offense the Mustangs hold a slight edge. Caruthers is batting .270 as a team with the Mustangs hitting .285. In common opponents the edge goes to Minarets with wins against Lindsay, while Caruthers lost to Liberty 7-6 March 22.