Mules vs. Littlefield Regional Quarter Finals (5-22 & 23-2015)
The Mules historic 2015 baseball playoff run came to an end with a big assist from Mother Nature this past weekend. The teams had flipped a coin for the type of field to be used and the Mules won the toss. Two of the possible three games were to be played on the Levelland’s Lobo Field and one game was scheduled for Roughneck Diamond in Sundown.
Lobo Field is a total grass field similar to the Mules’ home field while Roughneck Diamond has a turf infield and grass outfield like the Wildcats’ home field.
The first game was scheduled for Friday in Sundown. Heavy downpours in Levelland rendered Lobo Field unplayable so the flip was mute and Littlefield had the advantage despite losing the flip.
Mother Nature was not finished with her tricks on the Mules. The score was tied at 4-4 going into the seventh inning Friday evening when fog began to roll onto Roughneck Diamond.
Wes Clarkson lofted a two-out fly ball to right field that the Wildcat right fielder appeared to lose in the fog. Dustin Smith hit a fly to left field that was caught and ended the Mule threat.
The fog continued to steam roll onto the field between and during the bottom of the last inning. A high fly to left field was completely lost in the fog and scored the Wildcats winning run.
The 5-4 loss seemed to rip the heart from the Mules and Saturday’s game also went Littlefield’s way 18-7.
Braden Bessire’s bat continued to sizzle in the series. He blasted a one-out double down the left field line in the first inning of Friday’s opener. Clarkson singled to right center field to score Bessire.
Smith singled to right field to move Clarkson to second base and Pancho Elizalde drove a line drive to the fence in right field to score Clarkson and give the Mules an early 2-0 lead.
Littlefield was allowed to score a run on an error by the umpires when the infield-fly rule was not invoked timely and confusion resulted. Clarkson gunned down a Wildcat attempting to steal home in the confusion. Nathan Rejino applied the tag.
Bryce Mauricio drew a four-pitch walk to start the top of the second inning and he stole second base. Mauricio scored on a triple to the right field fence by Bessire. The Mules led 3-1 after two complete innings.
Littlefield scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 4-3 lead over the Mules.
Jason Florez reached on a fielder’s choice in the top of the fourth inning. Florez went to second on a single to left field by Danny Campos. Florez stole third base and scored on a sacrifice fly to deep center field by Bessire. The game was tied 4-4.
The Mules struggled to get the defense working and Littlefield score four runs in the top of the first inning.
Mauricio led off with a four-pitch walk in the bottom of the first inning. Bessire’s only home run in his high school career came on the second pitch he saw Saturday. There was no doubt where the ball was going when it left the bat and screamed over the left field fence.
Smith singled up the middle and stole second base. Felipe Guerrero was hit by a pitch and Grey Johnson laid down a sacrifice bunt back to the pitcher that moved Smith to third. Smith scored on a base hit to left by Nathan Rejino. The Mules had trimmed the Wildcat lead to 4-3.
The Cats added two runs in the top of the second inning and four in the top of the third to lead the Mules 10-3 going into the bottom of the third inning.
Guerrero doubled to left to start the bottom of the third inning. Rejino took the count full, fouled off two pitches before walking. An error on the first baseman allowed Guerrero and Rejino to both score. The Mule had cut the lead to 10-5.
The Mules cut one more from the Littlefield lead in the bottom of the fourth inning with Bessire blasting a lead-off double to centerfield. He scored on an error by the third baseman.
Littlefield again took the offensive with two runs in the top of the fifth inning and one in the top of the sixth.
Smith lined a two-out single to right field in the bottom of the sixth inning. Clarkson followed with a single to almost the same spot. Pancho Elizalde single to right field to load the bases. Smith scored on a passed ball for the Mules seventh and final run.