Mules vs. Idalou @ Area (5-9&10-14)
The Mules advanced to the Area round of the Texas State Baseball Playoffs by defeating the Boys Ranch Rough Riders. The Mules met the State ranked Idalou Wildcats Friday and Saturday on the Levelland Lobo Diamond.
The Wildcats were ranked in the top 10 of most polls and had scored 20 plus runs against most of their opponents this season. No district team could last longer than five innings against the Wildcats.
The Mules lost the first two games of the three-game series. Friday Idalou defeated the Mules 5-0 and came back on Saturday to take the second game 4-0.
“We struggled to hit the ball against them,” Coach Boatmun said. “Their pitchers were bringing it maybe a little faster than what we are accustomed. They put it in play hard and we depend on our defense and it has been enough.”
“We needed more offense and just did not get it done.”
“We really appreciate all the support from the parents, grandparents and fans that have been with us all season. They really did come out and show their support during the playoffs,” continued Boatmun.
“It truly made a difference to the boys and they played their hearts out. We will miss Matt (Barron) and Nacho (Elizalde) next year but we hope to have some of the young players to step up for us.”
Idalou pitching was the difference in the games as the Mules only had three hits in each game. Friday the Wildcats out hit the Mules four to three and the Mules allowed three extra outs that allowed Idalou three extra runs.
Wesley Clarkson got the nod from Mule coach Wes Boatmun to start the first game against Idalou. He gave up five runs on four hits, hit one batter with a pitch and walked two. The Mules committed three errors behind him.
The game was scoreless through the first four innings. An error allowed the first batter to reach first base and he went to second on a throwing error. The second batter popped out to Nathan Rejino at second.
The next batter doubled to left center to score the first run and a single by the next batter scored a second run. A sacrifice sent him to third and he stole home on a passed ball. Idalou led the Mules 3-0 after four innings.
Idalou added one run in the fifth inning and one in the sixth.
Danny Campos lined a two out single down the line in right field for the Mules first hit. He went to second on a passed ball but a strike out ended the inning. Rejino laid a perfect bunt down the first base line in the top of the fourth inning and ran past the pitcher before he could field the ball.
Beto Diaz drew a walk and put Mules at first and second base. Dustin Smith tried to bunt down the third base line but the ball went to close to the mound. The pitcher fielded the ball to force out Rejino at third base
Diaz was caught attempting to steal third base and a strike out ended the inning.
Jason Florez drove a high bouncing ball deep in the hole and the short stop was on the grass before he could field the ball. Florez beat the throw to first for an infield base hit. An error allowed Diaz to go to second and Rejino reach first base in the top of the sixth inning.
Florez went to third and Rejino advanced to third on a passed ball. A strike out and a ground out ended the inning and the Mules did not mount another threat.
The Mule defense shut down the running game of Idalou after Smith came up throwing in the second inning to gun down a base runner attempting to steal second base. Matt Barron easily made the tag three feet from the bag.
Florez chased down a line drive that went to the fence in right center field and fired the ball to Barron in shallow center field. Barron turn and gunned the ball to Campos for the tag at third to get the hitter attempting to turn a double into a triple for the third out.
Nacho Elizalde took the mound to start the second game Saturday afternoon and gave up four runs on 11 hits. He hit one batter and walked two. The Mules stranded eight Wildcats on base and committed no errors.
Idalou scored one run in the top of the first inning. A ground out to Elizalde and a strike out gave Idalou two outs before he hit the third batter and he stole second base. A single to right center field scored the run and Idalou led 1-0 after one inning.
The Mules kept Idalou off the board for the next three innings. The Wildcats doubled to start the fifth inning and an infield hit put runners at first and second. A double to right center scored two runs and a sacrifice moved the runner to third. A single to shallow right field scored the third run to put Idalou ahead 4-0.
Rejino singled in the first inning but was forced out at second base for the third out. Smith walked in the bottom of the fourth inning and Florez dropped a bunt single down first base line to put Mules at first and second.
A sacrifice bunt by Campos advanced the runner but a ground out ended the inning. Idalou appeared to get help from the home plate umpire in the bottom of the fifth inning. Grey Johnson drew a one-out walk.
Barron singled to right field to put Mules at first and second with one out. A wild pitch allowed the runners to advance before Rejino walked to load the bases. A strike out left the bases loaded with Mules with two out.
Smith came to the plate and the first three pitches were called ball. A called strike and a missed swing filled the count. Smith fouled off three pitches. The final pitch appeared to be well out of the strike zone and Smith did not offer at the pitch but the umpire rang him up to end the inning.
The Mules could not mount another threat.
The Idalou coach, Garrett Heard, went over and visited with the Mules after the second game and had nothing but praise for the way they had played the series.
Heard told the Mules, “You have made us a better team these past two days. We came here thinking anticipating to score 20 runs and you made us work for every thing we got. You have a bright future ahead.”