Series Win Moves Mustangs to State Tournament
By Will Johnson
TYLER – The Slocum Mustangs got a little payback over the weekend as they hammered the Union Hill Bulldogs by scores of 9-2 and 14-4 to advance to the UIL Class 1A State Baseball Tournament. The Bulldogs had defeated the Mustangs in the 2017 Regional Finals by a 2-1 series advantage.
Armed with that knowledge, Slocum knew they would be in a dogfight and they came out swinging – literally – as they posted three runs in their first at-bat of the series.
Trevor Tidball was on the mound for the Bulldogs and the first batter he faced – Taylor Hunt – reached on an error. Back-to-back singles from Joe Byrnes and Austin Sarraf pushed Hunt across the plate for the game’s first run.
It looked as if Tidball would get out of the inning – allowing only the one run – after Taylor Lomax lined out to short while Byrnes strayed too far off the bag and was doubled up at second.
Sarraf remained on first after the DP but moved to second on Colton Peters single to left. He moved to third when Dustin Fletcher hit a grounder that was booted for an error that loaded the bases.
Ben Haney was up next and singled into centerfield to plate both Sarraf and Peters. Randy Guess was hit by a pitch and then Andrew Abernathy struck out to end the Slocum at-bat, but the Mustangs had jumped out an early 3-0 lead.
Hunt got the start for the Mustangs and recorded two quick outs as he got Brantley Murray to foul out to third and then forced Riley Griffith to ground into a 4-3 force.
After a walk to Cody Yandle, Hunt picked him off with a good move to first which brought the inning to a close.
A quiet second inning gave way to a busy third inning as both teams scored twice. Fletcher led off with a walk to open the inning and moved to third when Haney roped a pitch into left for a single. With Guess at the plate, Haney stole second. Guess then singled to left to drive in Fletcher and move Haney to third.
Union Hill caught Haney in a run-down for the first out, but Lomax followed with a foul ball that was deep enough for Guess to score after tagging up to make the score 5-0.
After Tidball was able to eventually retire the side, the Bulldogs struck back with a pair of runs. Luke Batts struck out to lead off the bottom of the third but Jacob Yordy followed with a single. Yordy stole second but then Hunt struck out Murray.
An infield error allowed Griffith to reach safely and moved Yordy to third. Yandle was up next and he ripped a double to center to knock in Griffith and Yordy to make the score 5-2.
Hunt regrouped to record the inning’s final out and then the Mustangs plated four in the top of the fourth to put the game away as they coasted to a 9-2 win.
While game one was over by the fourth inning, game two was over after the first inning as the Mustangs crossed the plate seven times as Slocum rolled to a 14-4 series ending win over Union Hill.
The Bulldogs struck first as they scored a run off of Austin Sarraf on a passed ball in the initial inning of play. Murray led off with a walk and moved to second on a passed ball. He took third when Griffith grounded out and scored on a second passed ball.
When the Mustangs came in to bat, it took them all of two batters to tie the score. Hunt was hit by a River Scudday pitch and came around to score when a Joe Byrnes grounder was booted for an error.
Sarraf was walked and then Lomax was hit by a pitch to load the bases. After Peters hit into a 5-2 fielder’s choice, Fletcher slapped a double to center field to drive in Sarraf and Lomax. An error on the play allowed Fletcher to take second and was followed by a walk of Haney.
Guess was up next and was also hit by a pitch. Andrew Abernathy followed in the order and lined a double to left to drive in Fletcher and Haney. Hunt hit a double of his own to plate both Guess and Abernathy and just like that the Mustangs led by a score of 7-1.
Over the next 4.1 innings, the Mustangs added seven more runs to their total while Union Hill only managed three. The game was called in the bottom of the sixth on the run rule as the Mustangs coasted to the 14-4 win.
The win gave the Slocum Mustangs the 2-0 series victory and sends them to the Class A UIL State Baseball Tournament in Austin. The Mustangs are scheduled to play on June 6 at Dell Diamond in Round Rock. The time and opponent have yet to be announced by the UIL.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE LIMERICK