Tigers’ Big First Inning Dooms Mustangs
By Will Johnson
SLOCUM – A big first inning by the Centerville Tigers led to the undoing of the Slocum Mustangs on Friday, March 15 as the Mustangs fell by a final score of 5-2.
Dustin Fletcher got the start for Slocum and after striking out Dillon Denman to open the game, he walked Mikey Rojas and Cade Beshears on a total of nine pitches. Fletcher began to find the strike zone against Colton Adams but eventually walked him as well, to load the bases.
A wild pitch scored Rojas from third and advanced the base runners. Tanner Smoldas came in as a courtesy runner for Adams and when James Bodine grounded out, Beshears scampered home and Smoldas moved to third.
Now with two outs and only trailing 2-0, Fletcher was almost able to stop the bleeding but walked Alan Skipworth on a 3-2 count. Two pitches later, Skipworth stole second and Smoldas stole home to make the score 3-0.
A walk to Evan Neubauer and a steal of third by Skipworth brought about a change on the mound as Andrew Abernathy came on in relief. Abernathy was greeted with a two-run single from Sully Hill as Hill ripped a shot into right which plated Skipworth and Neubauer to make the score 5-0.
After the single, Abernathy managed to strikeout Kasen Jeitz on four pitches to end the top half of the first.
Neubauer was on the hill for the Tigers and he got two quick outs as he struck out Randy Guess and got Abernathy to ground out to short.
Austin Sarraf was up next and he got plunked by a Neubauer breaking ball that didn’t break to give the Mustangs their first base runner of the game. Fletcher was up next and he lined a shot into right which moved Sarraf to third.
That was as far as Sarraf would get, however, as Mateo Rodriguez grounded into a 4-3 force to retire the side.
The second inning didn’t start out too well for Abernathy but he managed to hold the Tigers in check. Denman led off with a double and moved to third on a single from Rojas. Denman, however, was picked off at third while Beshears grounded into a double play to take Abernathy off the hook.
Neubauer had a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the second as Josh Ives fouled out, Moses Taylor flew out to center and Lincoln Smith popped up to short to end the inning.
After the second inning, the game settled into a pitcher’s duel until the bottom of the sixth when Slocum finally broke into the scoring column.
Sarraf led off with a grounder to third that was booted for an error. Fletcher followed with a walk to move Sarraf to second. Rodriguez hit into a fielder’s choice that moved Sarraf to third but forced Fletcher at second.
A strike out by Ives left Sarraf at third but a single to left from Taylor brought Sarraf home to make the score 5-1. That was all the Mustangs could muster in the inning though, as Lincoln Smith grounded out to end the sixth.
The Mustangs tacked on another run in the bottom of the seventh but it was too little, too late as the Centerville Tigers held on to win the District 21-2A contest by a final score of 5-2.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.