Kingwood Mustangs 7, Atascocita Eagles 4 - April 30 @ C.E. King
With both the Mustangs and the Eagles falling on Friday night, the two ended up tied for fourth in District 21-6A, forcing a play in game on Saturday evening at C.E. King. The winner would secure a playoff berth against Deer Park while the loser would start preparing for summer ball.
Playing as the visiting team, the Mustangs leadoff hitter Jack Bruckbauer, reached on an infield to shortstop up the middle. A fielder's choice and a stolen base by Braelon Richardson put their first runner in scoring position but the inning ended scoreless. David Ward started for the Mustangs and got off to a great start, striking out Kendall George. A fly out and a second strikeout moved the game to the second.
There, Ryan McClish got Kingwood's second hit, a single up the middle. Sammy Soto singled to right and both runners moved an extra base on a fielding error. Liam O'Leary grounded to first, scoring McClish with the first run of the game. Ty Boatright doubled off the left field wall, just missing out on a two-run homer by a few feet. Instead, he settled for an RBI when Soto scored on the play. Bruckbauer followed with another infield single to shortstop allowing Boatright to score and push the Mustangs lead to 3-0. A bunt single, stolen base and single to left saw the Tigers post their first run and cut the lead to 3-1.
Kingwood went meekly in their half of the third before Atascocita threatened in the bottom of the frame. Two singles after two outs put runners on but a grounder to Richardson ended things there.
The Mustangs tried to add to their lead in the fourth when John Hebert and Soto walked back to back. Unfortunately, a couple of fielder's choices and a strikeout prevented that. A single was all Atascocita could get in the books though so the game moved to the fifth at 3-1.
Richardson led off the fifth with a single to center. Josh Arquette singled to left and Paxton Singleton walked to load the bases. McClish singled to right to score Richardson. Hebert walked to force in Arquette before Riley Chandler entered as a pinch runner. Soto singled to right, scoring Singleton, before Jason Arney pinch ran for him. O'Leary reached on a fielder's choice and was run for by Ashton Rodriguez as a courtesy runner. Boatright's sac fly to left plated Chandler and gave him his second RBI of the contest. Bruckbauer walked to load the bases again but the rally ended there as Kingwood now led 7-1. Down to their last three at bats of the game, Atascocita started a rally with a bunt back to the pitcher. A poor throw allowed the runner to reach second. Two walks then loaded the bases before Ian Carlson was summoned from the bullpen. After a run scored on a passed ball, the hitter walked to again load the bases. In what was probably the play of the game, their cleanup hitter hit a hard bouncer back to the mound that Carlson fielded, threw to O'Leary for force the runner out at the plate who then threw to Hebert at first to complete a 1-2-3 double play. The next hitter did stroke a line drive single just over the head of Bruckbauer at second to add two runs but that's where things ended. The double play seemed to take a little sting out of the Tigers despite having closed the gap to 7-4.
Each team was retired in the sixth in three up, three down fashion, moving the game to the final inning.
With a chance to extend their lead, a Soto single to left was extinguished with a double play. Atascocita, down to their last three outs, possibly in their season, went without a whimper as Carlson got a ground out to Richardson, a fly out to Boatright and ended the game in grand fashion with a three pitch strikeout to close it out and send the Kingwood Mustangs to the 2022 playoffs.
With the win, Ward moved to 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in district. Carlson went three innings and registered his second save of the season, giving him the team lead in that category.
The Mustangs will next face Deer Park Friday and Saturday. Game times and locations to be determined. A third game would be Saturday as well, if necessary.
Kingwood Varsity Mustangs
Overall record: 18-10
District record: 7-6 (including play-in game)
Tag(s): KHS Varsity