Pearland Oilers 10, Kingwood Mustangs 9 - May 14 @ Andy Wells Field
Friday night at Andy Wells Field showed the very best of what Kingwood baseball is all about, both with incredible fan support and ultimate effort by the players on the field. Unfortunately the Mustangs dropped a heartbreaker 10-9 to be eliminated and see their 2021 season come to an end. The boys and their families can be proud of the way they carried themselves all season, winning and losing with class while some of their opponents may not have. Not losing their composure in the heat of the battle proved that they were all winners in the big picture regardless of what the final score may have displayed.
As for the game itself, Kingwood ace Ryan McClish took the mound and other than a leadoff walk, moved through the Pearland lineup quickly in the first. He ended the inning with a strikeout, the sixth consecutive inning he had done so going back to the Dobie playoff game. In the Mustangs half, Neil Tian got things going with a four pitch walk. JP Mendoza doubled to the left centerfield gap to score Tian and give Kingwood a quick 1-0 lead.
McClish retired the Oilers in order in the second and incredibly, for the seventh straight time, ended the inning with a strikeout. Connor Johnson walked and moved to second on a successful Braelon Richardson sac bunt. After Paxton Singleton was hit by a pitch, Tian singled to left to score Johnson and push the lead to 2-0.
Pearland combined three singles and two walks to plate three runs and grab their first lead of the evening. Kingwood was unable to put a runner on base in the bottom of the third, leaving the score with Pearland up 3-2.
A single, a hit by pitch and three run home run extended the Pearland lead. McClish was able to strikeout the next hitter but he reached first on a wild pitch on the play. After a walk, Josh Pelfrey was summoned from the bullpen. An errant throw to first allowed a run to score before the inning ended. Another quick inning by the Mustangs left it at 7-2 Pearland.
A walk and a single off a diving Riley Bender's glove put two runners on and brought Austin Shever in to pitch. Mendoza helped douse that by throwing out a runner at third on an attempted steal. Tian and and Julian Rodriguez each singled in the bottom half but couldn't score leaving the five run deficit.
Kingwood turned a Julian and Richardson combined on a 6-4-3 double play to escape without damage in the sixth. In the Mustangs turn at bat, Shever led off with a walk and was run for by Ty Boatright. What seemed to be a double down the leftfield line by Johnson was overruled by the home plate umpire as a foul ball. But refusing to let that affect him, Johnson instead singled to left. A Richardson walk loaded the bases. Singleton's hard ground ball deflected off the third baseman and by the shortstop for a single, scoring both Boatright and Johnson to pull the Mustangs closer. After Dreyling ran for Singleton, Ashton Rodriguez grounded to short but lost his footing coming out of the box. However, the double play did allow Richardson to score and reduce the Pearland lead to two at 7-5.
The Pearland seventh included a couple of Shever strikeouts to go with a hit by pitch, a walk and a single to centerfield that scored a run. After a fielder's choice and an error, another single to center score two more runs and bumped the Pearland lead to 10-5 with the Mustangs having one last chance to extend their season.
Not willing to go without a fight, the team gave it all they had. Julian led off with a triple to right centerfield to keep the crowd in a frenzy. It can't be overstated how important it was for the team that they had the loud crowd there to cheer them on and being good sports while doing so. Well done Kingwood, but back to the game. Riley Bender followed with a towering two run home run to left field in his last at bat as a Mustang. Shever reached base and got to second on a bad throw by the third baseman on his ground ball. Boatright ran for him and scored on Connor Johnson's two run blast to rightfield, also his last at bat as a Mustang. The new Pearland pitcher walked Richardson, who moved to second on a wild pitch but was stranded there as the Mustangs couldn't quite overcome the Oilers.
Though it was tough to see the 2021 Mustangs play their last game, they fought back and gave it all they had and did things the right way. The parents, friends and community couldn't be prouder to have been a part of the season and we all wish the seniors well, whether they're continuing their baseball careers in college, becoming a Marine, studying to be a doctor, or embarking on their college degree. The 18 boys that played their last high school game last night won't be forgotten, nor will the valiant effort they put up in the bottom of the seventh. What a way to go out. Congrats gentlemen. Go conquer the world.
And for the returning lettermen, take in the excitement, thrill and even agony of last night's game and have that push you for next season. Continue to be a source of pride for Kingwood.
Kingwood Varsity Mustangs
Final record 25-11
District record: 9-3
Playoff record: 2-2
Kingwood Mustangs 12, Dobie Longhorns 2 - May 8 @ Andy Wells Field
With heavy hearts, the Kingwood Mustangs took the field with a chance to sweep the Dobie Longhorns just hours after learning that local legend Gary Bender had passed away this morning. Ace Ryan McClish (9-0) threw the team's second complete game of the playoffs and the offense was led by JP Mendoza's three RBI's and a pair of three hits and two RBI performances by Neil Tian and Gary's grandson Riley Bender.
Dobie started the game with a lot of traffic on the base paths but had to settle for one run, their first of the playoffs, when McClish ended the inning with a bases loaded strike out. The Mustangs then picked up right where they left off the day before. After Tian opened the inning with a walk, Julian Rodriguez doubled on a perfectly executed a hit and run. The hard ground ball between short and third allowed Tian to race home and tie the score at 1 each. Julian stole third and then scored when Bender laced a double to the right centerfield fence. A wild pitch allowed Bender to move to third and score on an RBI groundout by Mendoza, putting the 'Stangs up 3-1 after one inning.
McClish was able to avoid damage in the second despite more traffic. A hit by pitch was erased when Mendoza picked the runner off of first base. The double to right center was then stranded when he ended a second straight inning with a strikeout.
Connor Johnson led off the bottom of the second with a walk, eventually moving to second on a passed ball. He then stole third and scored on a poor throw by the catcher. Ashton Rodriguez walked and moved to second on a bad throw by the first baseman on a pickoff attempt. Tian reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error by the pitcher on the play. After Julian was hit by a pitch and Bender walked, JP doubled down the rightfield line to score both Tian and Julian. Max Dreyling ran for JP but was stranded. Through two, the Mustangs had a comfortable 6-1 lead.
McClish breezed through the third, retiring all three batters, and once again ended the inning with a strikeout. Braelon Richardson opened the bottom of the third by reaching on an error by the third baseman. Richardson stole second and moved to third on a balk. A Paxton Singleton hit by pitch was followed by an Ashton Rodriguez sac fly to rightfield to score Richardson. Jason Arney entered as a pinch runner for Singleton. On another hit and run, Tian singled between first and second sending Arney to third and sneaking into second on the throw. Julian followed with a deep flyout to right centerfield that took a very good play by the Longhorns to prevent the Mustangs from adding to their 7-1 lead.
Dobie was able to scratch a little with a leadoff home run to left field. After a double to the centerfield wall and a walk, McClish struck out the next two batters increasing his streak of inning ending strikeouts to four. Bender led off the fourth with a single over the shortstop. Austin Shever's high bouncer to third allowed him to reach on an infield single and move to second on an errant throw, scoring Bender in the process. Ty Boatright ran for Shever and quickly moved to third on a poor throw by the catcher on a pickoff. Richardson's groundout allowed Boatright to score to bump the Mustangs lead to 9-2 through four.
The Longhorns fifth again was quick and easy with the only blemish being a walk. And for the fifth and final time of the day, McClish finished the inning with a strikeout. Kingwood had a chance to end the game early with a run rule for the second consecutive day if they could manage three runs. Singleton's line drive single to right centerfield started things off. Ashton reached on a throwing error by the third baseman to put runners on second and third. Tian roped a two run single to leftfield, scoring both Singleton and Ashton. Julian walked setting up Riley Bender with the chance to be a hero. In an incredibly perfect way to end the senior's final home game at Andy Wells Field, on a day in which a man that had taught him so much about the game of baseball and life in general had passed away, Bender lined a walkoff single to left field to score Tian. Disney couldn't have written a better ending to today's game.
Rest in Peace Gary. The Kingwood/Humble/Atascocita area, your friends and most of all, your family will miss you. Thanks for all you've done for players past and present. You and your contributions will not be forgotten.
The Kingwood Mustangs will now move on to face the Pearland Oilers Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15. Time and place to be determined.
Kingwood Mustangs 14, Dobie Longhorns 0 - May 7 @ Dobie High School
The newly blonde Kingwood Mustangs opened the 2021 playoffs with a resounding 14-0 smackdown of the Dobie Longhorns Friday afternoon. Because the Longhorns home field doesn't have lights, the game started at 4pm, there would be no Nick at Night performance. Felan did not disappoint however as he fired a complete game shutout giving up only 3 hits and 1 walk in the contest. Though the bats started a bit quiet, they picked things up in the 3rd posting four runs and exploded for 10 in the 4th inning. The offense was led by JP Mendoza's four RBI's. Mendoza, Braelon Richardson and Connor Johnson all had two hits apiece.
The Mustangs had a walk to Julian Rodriguez in the top of the first before he moved to second on an error by the pitcher and to third on a wild pitch. Unfortunately, he was left there as the game shifted to the bottom half of the inning. A leadoff Longhorn walk was quickly erased when Felan snatched a popped up bunt and fired to first for a double play. A double put another runner in scoring position but he was stranded after a flyout to Neil Tian in centerfield.
Austin Shever led off the top of the second with Kingwood's first hit of the playoffs, a hard single up the middle. Jason Arney then ran for Shever and moved to second on another hard ground ball up the middle for a Connor Johnson single. However, a couple of flyouts kept those runners from scoring. Felan retired the Longhorns in order, sending the game to the third.
Tian walked to open the frame and stole second. Julian then walked as well, his second in as many at bats. Riley Bender laced an RBI double to leftfield scoring Tian and pushing Julian to third. JP's sac fly to center plated Julian for Kingwood's second run. Shever then reached on catcher's interference, putting runners on the corners. Richardson double to leftfield to allow Bender to score and Shever to get into third. A Johnson walk loaded the bases before Paxton Singleton lifted a sacrifice fly to leftfield for an RBI, scoring Shever. Ashton Rodriguez was hit by a pitch to again load the bases but the Mustangs settled for the four runs after getting the third out. The Longhorns were able to get a single to leftfield but nothing more as Felan breezed through another inning unharmed.
The fourth inning is when the fireworks started as Kingwood sent sixteen men to the plate. Julian led off with his third consecutive walk and eventually stole second during a long at bat by Bender. After a ten pitch at bat, Bender drew a walk as well. Julian stole third based before scoring on a JP single to leftfield that also moved Bender to third. Max Dreyling ran for JP and stole second. Shever reached on an error on the third baseman that allowed Bender to score and Dreyling to get to third. Richardson singled to rightfield to knock in Dreyling. An error on the play allowed both runners to advance, putting them on second and third. Johnson's single to leftfield scored Shever and advanced Richardson to third. Singleton was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ty Boatright entered as a pinch runner for Singleton. On the first offering by the new relief pitcher, the catcher was guilty of a passed ball, moving up each runner 90 feet and letting Richardson score. A Julian ground out then plated Johnson to increase the lead to 10-0 at that point. But the Mustangs weren't done there. Tian doubled to right field to score Boatright. Julian singled to centerfield to score Tian. Bender walked before he and Julian both moved up on another passed ball. JP followed with a single to center, scoring both Bender and Julian and inflating the Kingwood lead to 14-0. Dreyling again ran for JP as Thomas Larson added a pinch hit single. Zane Brown walked to load the bases with Mustangs. Boatright just missed a chance of clearing them if not for a good play on his line drive by the leftfielder. A Longhorns double to start the inning was wiped out when Mendoza threw out the would be base stealer at third. So despite the hit, Felan had a three up, three down inning.
Ryan Taylor, Nick Amar and Carson Ryan all made their initial playoff appearances in the top of the fifth before Felan was able to nail down the victory with a ground out and a couple of flyouts in the bottom of the fifth to end the game early due to run rule.
The Mustangs will again face Dobie Saturday at noon at Andy Wells Field in Kingwood.