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Mustangs Drop Game One of Playoff Series to Deer Park 4-2

By Jason Hebert, 05/08/22, 6:30PM CDT


Deer Park Deer 4, Kingwood Mustangs 2 - May 6, 2022 @ Deer Park

The Kingwood Mustangs opened the 2022 Playoffs at Jim Kethan Field in Deer Park Friday night in their best of three series.  After a lightning delay during warmups, the two teams were introduced and took the field about 7:15pm.

Deer ace Preston Watkins retired the Mustangs in order in the top of the first, striking out all three.  Josh Pelfrey toed the rubber for Kingwood, giving up a leadoff walk and stolen base before inducing three fly balls to keep the game scoreless.

Both teams again failed to score in the second as the Mustangs again went three up, three down.  The Deer managed a single to right center but nothing more as the game moved to the third at 0-0.

John Hebert led off the inning with a walk, the Mustangs first base runner of the evening.  On a failed bunt attempt, Hebert stole second to get into scoring position.  Liam O'Leary lined a single to center but Hebert was held at third with no outs and the centerfielder getting to the ball quickly.  Jason Arney entered as a courtesy runner for O'Leary.  Ty Boatright singled to center to score Hebert and give Kingwood an early 1-0 lead.  Braelon Richardson was safe at first on a throwing error by the pitcher, which also allowed him to get to second, Boatright to third and Arney to score the Mustangs second run of the inning.  Paxton Singleton was walked intentionally with two outs but a fielder's choice kept the game at 2-0.  With two outs, the Deer mounted a rally with three straight singles, the third of which plated their first run to cut the lead to one.  A walk and a line drive off of Pelfrey's ankle knotted the game at 2 before the third out.

The Mustangs went quietly in the fourth, retired in order for the third time in four innings.  Deer Park got a bunt single and a stolen base but could not score.

Kingwood sent the minimum to the plate in the fifth again as Watkins continued to keep them off balance.  The Deer notched consecutive triples to the right centerfield gap to break the tie and take a 3-2 lead.  A double down the right field line added to that and put them up by 2 runs.  Landon Morman came out of the pen to keep the game at 4-2 through five.

In the sixth, Ryan McClish doubled to right center but was stranded there.  Morman collected three ground ball outs sandwiched around a single to right and a passed ball to send the game into the final frame with the Mustangs trailing by 2.

Hebert drew his second walk of the game to lead off the seventh, bringing the tying run to the plate.  Arney entered the game again, this time as a pinch runner.  Unfortunately, a double play left the Mustangs with one last out.  Boatright prolonged the game with a single to left, again bringing the tying run to the plate.  Freshman Braden Fuentes was sent up as a pinch hitter but Watkins was able to finish off the complete game and put the Deer up 1-0 in the series.

Kingwood will next play at noon Saturday at Andy Wells Field in Kingwood.

Kingwood Varsity Mustangs
Overall record:  18-11
District record:     7-6  (including play-in game)
Playoff record:       0-1