The Mustangs magical season came to a sudden halt on Saturday as they fell to Midland Greenwood in the Area round of the post season play.
After shutting out the mostly senior team 5-0 on Friday, the Rangers came back to win game two 9-0 and then rallied in the top of the 7th to win game three 7-5.
Luis Rodriquez pitched a complete game in shutting down a vaunted Ranger power hitting team. The Rangers left two runners on in both the first and second innings and the bases loaded in the third and fourth, but each time Rodriquez settled down to get the third out.
Meanwhile the Mustangs tacked on a run in a most unusual way in the second inning and added four more in the third for all the runs Rodriquez needed.
With two outs in the second Braden McGary launched a deep shot to left center field for a stand up double. In attempt to pick him off rounding second a Ranger threw the ball all the way to the fence on the first base side. Braden hesitated at third, but after a second throw was way off the mark at home plate he came on home after the two throwing errors and a 1-0 Denver City lead.
Irving Mijares had one RBI in the third inning and Michael Garcia delivered a 2 RBI double down the left field line two batters later.
Dawson Merryman handcuffed the Mustangs in game two allowing just three hits while striking out 12 batters.
The game remained close up until the last two innings when the Rangers scored eight of their nine runs.
The Mustangs had an opportunity to grab the early lead after Cameron Garcia singled, but was caught stealing second. On the next pitch Luis hit a triple to right center field that would have scored Cameron. Irving struck out to end the threat.
Greenwood got their first two batters on base in the sixth inning on a walk and a hit batsman. This was followed by a 2 RBI double and a single that accounted for their three runs.
Two walks, a hit batsman, and a Denver City error along with a triple and two singles accounted for five more runs in the top of the seventh inning.
In the decisive third game Greenwood jumped out to a 1-0 after two walks and a sacrifice fly. The Mustangs countered in the bottom of the third when Fernny Vega led off with a single and was sacrificed to second on a perfect bunt by Ivan Villarreal. Cameron walked, Luis popped out for the second out. Irving and Daven Blanco were both hit by pitches bringing in Fernny. Braden then hit a single to right field scoring two more runs and a 3-1 Mustang lead.
Greenwood added single runs in the fourth and sixth innings tying things up.
Daven led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, was given second on a balk, went to third on a single by Braden, and came home on a wild pitch to once again give the Mustangs a 4-3 lead.
But Greenwood answered with a leadoff single followed by a triple to deep centerfield over the head of Michael to once again tie the game. The next batter walked followed by a sacrifice fly to center field that gave the Rangers a 5-4 lead.
This was followed by a walk, another hit batsman, and an error that made it 6-4. And the final run scored on a pass ball.
The Mustangs fought back in their half of the seventh. Ivan started the inning with a single, but the next two batters struck out. Irving drew a walk and Daven looped a single down the left field line scoring Ivan from second and Irving advancing to third. That brought Merryman back into the game who threw a sweeping curve ball that caught the corner of the plate that froze Braden for the final out.
“These guys have grown a bunch this season,” Coach Rodney Curtis said. “Both together and individually they have continued to improve week after week, and were truly playing their best baseball last weekend. I believe that they now realize just how close they are to being the very best in the state. Yes they are that talented, but we must continue to work together to realize that dream.
“For those seniors: Gehrig, Cameron, Holden, and Isaac, I am particularly thankful and sorrowful. They are each good men and will be good leaders for their families and schools and employers or employees. I wish them well, they helped me become a better man too.
“Next season starts today!”
The Mustangs finished their season with a 20-10 record, which included 5-5 in district play. They started district with a 1-4 record and then turned things around in the second half going 4-1 and finishing in third place.
Assisting Coach Curtis this season was Chad Dennis and Brian Lewis.