Clear Springs Chargers 6, Kingwood Mustangs 2 - May 20, 2023 @ The Hill (Barbers Hill)
Splitting the first two games in the series meant Saturday's day game was a winner-take-all between Kingwood and Clear Springs. The Mustangs had Logan Harris on the bump while the Chargers had Caden Wells going for them.
Brian Schumacher led off the game with a pop up to shortstop before Braelon Richardson was hit by a pitch. Richardson stole second a pitch before Caden Wellmann to give the Mustangs some early life. Josh Arquette also walked to load the bases but a strikeout and a fly out to left center shut the door on the top of the first without a score. The Chargers lead off hitter grounded out to Richardson at short before they got a single through the hole on the right side for their first hit. Another single, this time a line drive to center, gave them two runners on with only one out. Schumacher chased down a foul ball in the right field corner for out number two as the runner on second tagged up and moved to third. But Harris struck out the next batter to keep the game at 0 moving into the second.
Ty Boatright singled to left, stole second and scored on Liam O'Leary's single through the right side on a perfectly timed hit and run play. Dylan Key entered as a courtesy runner for O'Leary but was caught stealing. Caden Callaway walked and stole second, moving to third on a groundout before being stranded on a called third strike. A little flare dropped just out of the reach of Arquette at third for a lead off single. A walk to the next hitter again gave the Chargers two runners on in consecutive innings. Harris struck out the next hitter and an Arquette to Caden Wellmann to Sammy Soto double play ended the threat and preserved Kingwood's 1-0 lead through two innings of play.
Wellmann and Fuentes both walked in the third to give Mustangs two on with one out but a pair of fly outs kept them there. Harris got a quick out with a ground ball to Arquette before walking the second batter. A line drive single to center gave the Chargers runners on first and second for the third straight inning. A high chopper to Richardson at short forced the runner at second but the throw to first was a bit late for the double play. With runners at first and third, Clear Springs used a single to right to tie the score at one. Two more singles to left plated a couple more runners to give them a 3-1 lead before a liner to Arquette closed out the frame.
O'Leary led off the fourth with a single up the middle and was run for by Key. Key moved to second on Callaway's sac bunt to third before a groundout for the second out of the inning. Richardson singled to left to knock in Key to pull the Mustangs within one at 3-2. Wellmann walked to put two runners on, forcing the Chargers to bring in Hunter Heath from the bullpen. A double steal put two runners in scoring position before a checked swing grounder to the pitcher ended the threat. Harris retired three of the four hitters he faced in the fourth with the lone base runner reaching on a hit-by-pitch.
The fifth inning saw Kingwood retired in order on a flyout to center, a called third strike and a grounder to third. Harris recorded the first out in the bottom of the fifth on a grounder to Richardson at short. The next hitter singled to left and then stole second. A walk once again put two Chargers on first and second with one out. Another walk loaded the bases soon after. Ian Carlson was brought into the game with three runners on and one out. A line drive single to left scored one run but a second runner was thrown out at the plate on a Callaway to Arquette to O'Leary relay for the tag. A double to deep right center pushed across two more runs and increased the Chargers lead to 6-2. After a hit by pitch, Landon Morman took over and recorded a strikeout to end the fifth.
The Mustangs again went down in order in the sixth, with two groundouts to shortstop and one strikeout. Clear Springs followed suit and also went 1, 2, 3 with a liner to Richardson at short, a grounder to Richardson and another strikeout to move the game to the seventh.
With one last chance to extend their season, Richardson led off with a single to right center. Wellmann followed with a single up the middle showing for the second game in a row that the Mustangs weren't going down without a fight. A 6-4-3 double play meant Kingwood was down to their last out in the game and perhaps their season. Fuentes extended the game when he was hit by a pitch. Soto walked and was replaced by Matthew Estes as a pinch runner. With the bases loaded and the tying run at the plate, a full count swinging strikeout closed out the game, the series and the season. But what a season it was for the Kingwood Mustangs. They won 17 games in a row prior to Friday night's loss. They swept the first two rounds of the playoffs and had five straight playoff wins at one point. They definitely don't have anything to be down about as the All District teams should be filled with Mustangs. Ryan Beideck, Spener Boyden, Matthew Estes, Dylan Key, Ian Carlson, Ty Boatright, Liam O'Leary, Landon Morman, Josh Pelfrey, Logan Eckert, Jackson Jones, John Hebert, Sebastian Encarnacion, Wesley Lawson, David Ward, Tyson Culley and Bryce Burt all wore the Kingwood uniform for the last time and all should be proud for being a part of a great season, all contributing at some point during the season. Good luck to Pelfrey, Carlson and Encarnacion as you continue your baseball careers and Boatright in football. While baseball may be over for the rest of you gentlemen, your trek is just beginning. May your victories far outweight your losses as you embark on your next stages of life.
Overall record: 27-9-3
District record: 13-1
Playoff record: 5-2
Clear Springs Chargers 7, Kingwood Mustangs 2 - May 19, 2023 @ The Hill (Barbers Hill)
Kingwood entered Friday night's game at Barbers Hill needing one win to eliminate Clear Springs and advance to round four. The Mustangs sent David Ward to the mound while the Chargers countered with Tyler Ryder.
After the Clear Springs lead off hitter walked, Ward got two flyouts to Ty Boatright in center before a second walk gave the Chargers two runners on with two outs. A pop up to Caden Wellmann at second ended the inning, keeping the score at zero. It stayed that way through one full inning when the Mustangs hitters had a couple of strikeouts and a foul pop to third.
The lead off hitter walked and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt that Sammy Soto fielded and stepped on the bag. Another pop up to Wellmann at second left Clear Springs with a runner at second and two outs. But a double just beyond the reach of Boatright in deep center plated the Chargers first run of the game and the series. A groundout to Josh Arquette at third closed out the top of the second with Kingwood now trailing 1-0. Ryder continued as he had in the first inning, again retiring the side with three more strikeouts, two of which were looking.
In the third, the Chargers lead off hitter got things started with a single past a diving at Arquette at third. Consecutive singles, the first to left centerfield and the second to center, loaded the bases with no outs. A fouth straight hit, a line drive to right, brought in one run and moved all other runners up, leaving the bases loaded and giving the Chargers a 2-0 lead. Wesley Lawson was summoned from the bullpen to attempt to put out the fire. Lawson struck out the first batter he faced and a line drive to Soto, who then tagged the runner next to him for a double play, got the Mustangs out of the jam and kept the score 2-0. Kingwood finally got a baserunner in the third inning when Soto walked. He was advanced to second on Liam O'Leary's sac bunt back to the pitcher but a pick off at second and another strikeout meant the Chargers pitcher had faced the minimum nine hitters through three.
Lawson breezed through the fourth with a groundout to Braelon Richardson at short, an unassisted play by Soto at first and a fly ball to Caden Callaway in left. After a strikeout and groundout to short, the Mustangs broke into the hit column for the first time when Wellmann laced a double over the right fielder's head. Arquette walked and the two completed a double steal but a strikeout and catcher tag prevented Kingwood from scoring, leaving the game at 2-0.
For the fourth time in five innings, the Chargers leadoff hitter reached, this time on a walk. A soft single off the bat of their next hitter gave them first and second, no outs. A groundball to Wellmann, flipped to Richardson at second, gave the Mustangs their first out and put runners on the corners. A sac fly to left allowed run number three to cross the plate but on the play, the runner on first was thrown out trying to advance to end the inning. Two more strikeouts and a groundout made for a quick inning for Kingwoo though as they trailed 3-0 through five innings of play.
After a groundout to Wellmann led off the inning, a missile hit toward second allowed the second runner to reach. A groundout to Arquette, who threw to Wellman at second, retired the lead runner, giving the Chargers two outs and a runner on first. A single to left centerfield and a walk loaded the bases. A fly ball was mishandled by the charging left fielder, allowing two runs to score, giving Clear Springs a 5-0 margin. A grounder to Soto ended the inning there. With two chances to hit left to whittle at the deficit, the Mustangs again went down in order on a pair of groundouts and one more strikeout.
The lead off hitter in the seventh inning hit a home run to left to extend their lead. The next hitter lifted a fly ball to right that was dropped, allowing him to scamper into second base. A groundout to the right side moved him to third. An infield single up the middle brought in the runner from third to push the score to 7-0. A wild pitch, moving the runner to second, a deep fly out to center and a strikeout closed things out, leaving the Mustangs in need of seven runs to continue. With their backs against the wall, Wellmann led things off with a walk and moved to second on Arquette's single up through the hole on the left side. Braden Fuentes singled to left to load the bases as Kingwood didn't want to go down quietly. A strikeout was the first out of the inning before Soto walked to force in the Mustangs first run of the night. Connor Mondev entered for the Chargers to pitch. O'Leary's fielders choice grounder to short pushed across another run but a grounder to short and stepping on the bag ended the game there with a 7-2 loss.
Ward did not record a strikeout in two innings while Lawson picked up two in his five innings of relief as the Chargers did a very good job of putting the ball in play. The pair of Clear Springs pitchers had twelve strikeouts on the night.
The Mustangs had their 17 game winning streak snapped with the loss.
The third round concludes tomorrow at 2pm with the game again being held in Barbers Hill.
Overall record: 27-8-3
District record: 13-1
Playoff record: 5-1
Kingwood Mustangs 4, Clear Springs Chargers 0 - May 18, 2023 @ The Hill (Barbers Hill)
Kingwood and Clear Springs started round three on a warm Thursday night at a neutral site in Barbers Hill. The Mustangs sent Josh Pelfrey to the mound while the Chargers countered with AJ Ryan.
While the fans were being warned by the home plate umpire first for having a blow horn and then threatened with an ejection for having cowbells, the Mustangs bats started slowly in the top of the first . Two strikeouts and a bouncer that the catcher was able to throw the runner out at first on retired the side in order. The Chargers lead off reached on a line drive single to center but a ground ball to Braelon Richardson at short, a flip to Caden Wellmann at second and a throw to Sammy Soto at first quickly erased the baserunners with a double play. A double off the left field wall ended up being stranded there on a grounder to Wellmann to end the first scoreless.
After another strikeout to open the second, Kingwood got their first base runner when Braden Fuentes hit a sharp ground ball beyond a diving third baseman. He moved to second when Ty Boatright was hit by a pitch, putting two Mustangs on with only one out. Soto walked to load the bases before a grounder to third by Liam O'Leary plated Fuentes as the first run of the game. A second groundout to third closed out the frame with Kingwood clinging to a 1-0 lead. Pelfrey recorded his first strikeout to start the second, got a fly ball to left and then a deep fly ball that Boatright made a nice running catch on to complete the three up, three down.
The team had two quick outs before Wellmann walked. Josh Arquette then crushed a ball to left centerfield for a two run home run, increasing the Mustangs lead to 3-0. Pelfrey breezed through the bottom half with a foul pop to Arquette and two more strikeouts.
Boatright led off the fourth with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch but was stranded there as the next three hitters were retired. The only blemish in the bottom of the fourth for Pelfrey was an infield single to third that bounced high off the plate leaving Arquette with no play. A groundout to third close out the frame though and kept Kingwood up 3-0.
Richardson reached on a swinging strikeout that got by the catcher but was picked off first base as the squad was retired in order. In the fifth, after a groundout to Wellmann at second and another Pelfrey strikeout, the Chargers loaded the bases on three consecutive walks. With no one warming up in the pen, Pelfrey was on his own. Up to the task, he struck out the final hitter to preserve the shutout.
The Mustangs only managed a Boatright infield single to deep short in the top of the sixth, still holding on to a three run lead at 3-0. A pop to second, a groundout to Wellmann at second and a strikeout made quick work of the Chargers, moving the game into the seventh.
Clear Springs made a pitching change to open the inning, going with Luke Watkins. Watkins immediately walked O'Leary, who was replaced by courtesy runner Dylan Key. Caden Callaway's sac bunt to the pitcher moved Key up ninety feet. Brian Schumacher's infield single to second put runners on the corners with only one out. Bryce Baker entered as a pinch runner for Schumacher and moved to second on Richardson's walk to load the bases. Another Clear Springs pitching change brought Hunter Heath into the game. Wellmann's ground ball up the middle allowed Key to score the Mustangs fourth run of the evening at the throw to first was deemed just late to prevent the double play. Arquette walked to again load the bases but the side was retired when Fuentes hit a missile right at the left fielder. Pelfrey and the Mustangs needed just three outs to jump out to a 1-0 lead in the series. Knowing that seemed to push Pelfrey as he struck out the lead hitter swinging, induced a pop up to Richardson at short and caught the last hitter looking for another strikeout, finishing off the complete game shutout in a 4-0 win.
With the victory, Pelfrey recorded eight strikeouts in his 7 innings.
The Mustangs have now won 17 straight games and 21 of their last 22 overall.
The third round continues tomorrow night at 7pm with the game again being held in Barbers Hill.
Overall record: 27-7-3
District record: 13-1
Playoff record: 5-0