Mustangs, Bears grab last two baseball playoff seeds
Published 8:51 am Tuesday, May 3, 2016
By Ronnie Hughes
JASPER — As the Little Cypress – Mauriceville Bears have been on a late season surge the Mustangs of West Orange – Stark have tumbled from first place in District 24-4A to barely grabbing the third of four playoff spots.
In a scenario similar to last season the district seen a three-way tie and needing a playoff to decide who stays, who plays and what seed. The deciding match-ups on Saturday would see Hardin Jefferson versus LC-M with the winner of that contest guaranteed a playoff spot and playing WO-S for third and fourth place.
The Bears struggles this season have mainly been on the mound with inconsistent pitching. Down, 2-1, early to the Hawks of Hardin Jefferson the Bear pitching gave up six hits and three runs in the fifth inning and fell even further into a hole. Brayden Pomirko led off the inning with a single and was quickly brought into scoring position after Logan Thompson cranked a deep ball for a double to left field. A walk to the next batter loaded the bases for the Hawks with Pomirko scoring on the next pitch that went wild over the catcher’s head. Nance Marsh polished off the inning with a two-run RBI double for a 5-1 lead after five complete innings.
The Battlin’ Bears proved they’re worthy of a playoff spot with a big-time clutch sixth inning. Sparked by a Mitchell Lee lead off double off the center field wall the Bear bats came alive. Grant White followed with a single and Michael Lee brought home the first run of the inning with a single after battling the Hawk pitcher through 14 pitches thrown. Payton Choate later tied the game at five runs each after an RBI single scored Ryan Martin. The Bears had six consecutive hits before a Hawk pitching change. The Bears batted through the line-up in route to an eight run inning that had the Bear fans on their feet and loud as they grabbed a commanding, 9-5 lead, after trailing 5-1 entering the inning.
Slade Green finished off the final two innings on the bump for the Bears allowing just one hit and no runs to help complete the comeback for LC-M. The huge win not only gave LC-M another Saturday evening game, but also locked them into the post-season.
The final game of the evening and battle for the third and fourth seed in district 24-4A seen a familiar Orange County battle between LC-M and WO-S.
The Mustangs have had their share of struggles this season as well after losing their leading hitter KJ Miller to start the second half of district play. Miller in just his second game back after a fractured thumb sidelined him three weeks came back in a big way for his Mustangs Saturday.
Jack Dallas improved on his .354 batting season batting average an RBI single to drive home Payton Robertson for the games first run. Mustangs had a three hit, one run first inning to shake up the Bears early. The Bears however answered back with Michael Lee launching a lead off double and later scoring on a Bryce Peasly single. Truman Franklin later scored on a Choate sac-fly to give the Bears a 2-1 advantage after one complete.
A big top of the third gave the Bears a 4-1 lead. After two quick outs the Bears started hitting Payton Robertson best pitches that led to a pitching change. Ryan Ragsdale relieved Robertson on the mound to get out of the jam leaving two runners stranded, but not before LC-M was able to scratch across two runs.
Both clubs went stale at the plate over the next 2 ½ innings with LC-M finally scooting another run across home on Choate RBI single to lead, 5-1 after the top of the sixth.
The Mustangs came galloping back in the bottom of the inning. They’d pull within two runs after Keyshawn Holeman and Miller both hitting RBI doubles making it a 5-3 game heading into the final frame.
Michael Lee gave the Bears a little breathing room with an RBI hot to left field that scored, Cameron Parker. Michael Lee was 3-4 with two RBIs versus WO-S on the evening.
The Mustangs entered the bottom of the seventh down by three and just three outs away from taking the dreaded fourth seed in the post-season. The Mustangs kept to their wild ways and made the seventh inning interesting for fans once again. Ragsdale grounded out to start the inning, but then Bear pitching led to two consecutive walks with Chad Dallas and BB Tezeno both getting free bases. Mitchell Lee came into pitch for the Bears and struck out Kaleb Ramsey on three straight strikes for two outs and what appeared to be one out away from a Bears win.
The speedy Blake Robinson had his own plans as he was able to outrun an infield grounder to load the bases for the Mustangs with two outs. Holeman stepped to the plate with KJ Miller on deck with a grin on his face hoping he’d get his chance. Holeman would walk and scored Ross who was pinch running for Chad Dallas to pull the Stangs’ within, two runs. Miller could not have made his return at a better time. Sitting at the plate with two outs, bases loaded and his team hanging by a thread down two runs, he’d smash a deep bases clearing double off the left center field wall that lifted the Mustangs to a 7-6 come from behind win. Miller had four RBIs in the game and batted 2-for-4.
The win gave the Mustangs third seed in the district standings and LC-M took the fourth seed and will face Huffman-Hargrave in the bi-district round of the 4A playoffs. WO-S match-up for bi-district play is still pending. An old-fashioned flip of the coin decided the top half of the district after Bridge City took a loss to Hamshire-Fannett to end the season and in return gave Silsbee a share of the district title. Bridge City will be seeded as the second place team with Silsbee seeded at number one after the coin-flip.
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