The Minarets Mustangs (18-9-1, 8-2 West Sequoia League) baseball season came to an end May 24 with a 14-5 loss to the D-V No. 1 seed Central Valley Christian (19-12).
The Mustangs traveled to Visalia in hopes of continuing an impressive 12 game win streak. With their ‘ace’ Riley Hillerman well rested, Coach Jesse Darrah and his Mustangs were feeling confident entering the elimination game. Hillerman had been the backbone for the Mustangs team this year and enjoyed solid defense behind him during the Mustangs win streak. The senior will be playing at Reedley College next season.
A Cavaliers walk followed by a hit batter, and a Theo May hit scored two runs. Another walk and a passed ball by Hillerman put runners at the corners. Hillerman recorded his first strikeout of the game, and the Mustangs got out of the first inning down 2-0.
Another quick at bat for Minarets and the Cavaliers started off where they ended the first inning, with bases loaded following multiple errors by the Mustangs. Hillerman recorded his second K on the day for the first out of the second.
With bases loaded a routine double play ball was mishandled resulting in an out at second and a wild throw to first. The Mustangs were down 4-0 after two innings.
Minarets had the bases loaded in the third when Hillerman drew a walk to bring in the first Mustangs run. First baseman Brendan Bourdet came through with a hit to score two runs and get his Mustangs back in the game, trailing 4-3. Two pitches later, Aaron Hall scored on a wild pitch and it was a new game for the Mustangs going into the bottom of the third.
The Mustangs defense committed three errors in the bottom of the third, giving CVC two more unearned runs to regain the lead, 6-4.
In the fourth inning, the Mustangs retired the side in order for the first time in the game.
The Cavaliers started the fifth with a walk, followed by a single to put runners at the corners once again, and soon CVC was up 7-5.
Freshman Tyler Painter came in to relieve Hillerman and struggled finding the plate. After intentionally loading the bases, a passed ball resulted in another Cavaliers run and an 8-5 lead. A wild pitch resulted in yet another run and the Cavaliers were up 9-5, having scored seven unearned runs. A single and another wild pitch followed by a bases clearing double broke it open for CVC as they went to the top of the sixth inning leading 14-4.
The Mustangs would go on to add a run for the 14-5 score, but that would be the end to a great season for first year coach Darrah.
“I'm really proud of the season this team put together,” Darrah said. “We won 18 games and made it to the semifinals in our division. These players earned each of those wins with the work they put in this season ... they got better and better as we won 12 straight before this loss. CVC was the best team we faced all season and we needed to play our best game to win. Unfortunately it wasn’t our day and we came up short.”
Darrah said the team will start preparing for next season.
“Now we begin to prepare for next season with this new group of seniors to lead us,” Darrah said. “Summer ball is right around the corner as we look to establish next year’s team and prepare them for games like this.”
CVC, the No. 1 seed, went on to lose to the No. 2 seed Chavez Titans 10-8 in the D-V championship game May 30.