Mustangs qualify for state tournament

David Peck

The Lovell Mustangs are heading to State. With two wins in the first three games at the Class A West District Tournament in Green River this week, the Mustangs advanced to the Class A State Tournament next week in Cody.

The Mustangs brought the big lumber to Green River. They came from behind to clobber host Green River 15-8 Monday night, fell to top seed Cody Tuesday afternoon 10-5, then qualified for State by eliminating Rawlins 17-0 later Tuesday afternoon.

Game one was the key, as the win set up an easier path to advancement. After an early pitchers duel, the Mustangs scored five runs in the top of the fourth, only to see Green River score two in the bottom of the fourth and four in the fifth to lead 6-5.

Lovell tied the score in the sixth, but Green River plated two in the bottom of the inning to take an 8-6 lead with one inning to play. The hometown Knights couldn’t hold it as Lovell exploded for nine runs in the top of the seventh and went on to win 15-8.

The Mustangs had only one hit through the first three innings against Green River pitcher Peterson, but Lovell starter Lafe Files matched him with three scoreless frames. A pair of errors opened the door to the five-run fourth for the Mustangs as Cale Wright and Alex Hedges added RBI singles. A two-run home run put Green River on the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning.

Green River got to Files for two more in the bottom of the fifth, then touched reliever Tucker Jackson for two more in the same inning as Green River went up 6-5.

Jackson helped himself with a solo home run in the top of the sixth to knot the score 6-6.

Green River plated a pair off Jackson and reliever Carlos Rodriguez in the bottom of the sixth, but then it was all Mustangs. The Mustangs sent a remarkable 15 batters to the plate in the top of the seventh en route to nine-run inning, taking full charge of the game. The inning included an RBI single by Cason James, a two-run, go-ahead single by Nate Minemyer, a two-run double by Jackson, a RBI singles by Tyson Christiansen and Rodriguez and bases-loaded walks drawn by Pickett and Minemyer.

Green River used four pitchers in the seventh, to no avail. Rodriguez then closed out the game three up, three down in the bottom of the seventh.

The Mustangs finished with 13 hits and drew nine walks in the game. Rodriguez was 4-5 with three runs scored and an RBI, Jackson 3-2 with a double, home run, two runs and three runs batted in. Minemyer had three RBIs, Pickett and James two apiece.

On the mound, Files allowed six runs on nine hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings of work, with five strikeouts. Jackson allowed two runs, one earned, on two hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning. And Rodriguez pitched the final inning and two-thirds to pick up the win, allowing no runs and no hits with no walks and three strikeouts.

Loss to Cody

The Mustangs gave top-seeded Cody a battle Tuesday afternoon. Cody got to Lovell starter James for seven runs in the first two innings, but the Mustangs fought back with two in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth to cut the Cody lead to 7-5.

Lovell scored on a Jackson grounder and a James solo home run in the fourth, an RBI single by Christiansen in the fifth and a Jacob Bischoff ground out and Pickett bases-loaded walk in the sixth.

Pickett had relieved James on the mound in the second inning and blanked the Cubs for three innings after that, but in the bottom of the sixth the Cubs got a walk, hit batter and three-run home run to put the game away.

Hedges had two of Lovell’s five hits in the game, Christiansen, Rodriguez and James one each. Pickett, Christiansen, Jackson, James and Bischoff drove in one run each.

James allowed seven runs on the mound, Pickett three as the Lovell hurlers allowed just five hits but walked nine. Pickett fanned six batters in his 4 2/3 innings on the hill.

Big win

The Mustangs started a bit slow but ended up blasting the Rawlins generals 17-0 Tuesday afternoon to punch their ticket to State. Lovell scored two in the first and third to lead 4-0, then added seven in the fourth and six in the fifth to win by the 10-run rule.

In the first, Rodriguez singled home Pickett, and James was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. A squeeze bunt by Minemyer and an error plated two more in the third.

The seven-run fourth included a double by Pickett and a single by Christiansen, an RBI single by Rodriguez, a bases-loaded hit batter taken by Minemyer, an RBI single by Hedges and a run-scoring double by Pickett.

Runs scored in the fifth came on a single by Max Cooley, a two-run double by Hudson May and a two-run single by Pickett.

The Mustangs finished with 14 hits as Pickett, Christiansen and Rodriguez had three hits apiece, Hedges two. Pickett and May drove in three runs each, Rodriguez two, and Rodriguez scored three runs, Pickett, Wright, Jackson and May two each.

Minemyer pitched a two-hit shutout to pick up the win on the mound, throwing five scoreless innings and striking out seven.

Having qualified for State with the win over Rawlins, the Mustangs played Green River for third place Wednesday morning. Green River eliminated Riverton Tuesday night after Riverton fell to Powell Tuesday morning. Cody met Powell for the district title Wednesday afternoon.

Cody will host the Class A State Tournament next Monday through Friday, July 25-29.