The Natalia Mustangs and the Jourdanton Indians battled for the third time in 26-3A action this past Monday to see who would enter the playoffs as the 2nd place seed and who would represent as the 3rd seed. Despite taking a 2-0 lead, a ton of errors in the top of the 5th inning resulted in the Indians surging ahead for good in what turned into a tough 8-5 loss for Natalia.
“We knew this seeding game would be a dogfight,” Coach Philip Martinez said. “We were able to get ahead but just couldn’t string together a couple of more solid innings.”
The Mustangs used a total of three pitchers during their seven inning battle. Jeremiah Castro pitched for 4.0 innings, as he allowed three hits, walked one, struck out four and allowed four runs, zero of which were earned.
Matt Contreras pitched .2, where he allowed three hits, struck out one and allowed four runs, three of which were earned.
Diego Zapata rounded things out for Natalia pitching 2.1, where he allowed one hit, walked two, struck out one.
The Stangs scored two runs in their opening at bat, thanks to AJ Felker being hit by a pitch, a Jeremiah Castro single and an error put into left field by Caden Fregia.
Jourdanton scored their first run in the top of the 4th, thanks to a two out rally consisting of a number of errors and two walks.
The Mustangs responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a two out rally led by a Matt Contreras single. He scored, thanks to a Zapata double.
The Indians struck again with their big 5th inning, as they scored seven runs off a slew of errors and numerous singles to surge ahead 8-3.
Natalia finished off their offensive production with a run in the 5th and one in the sixth, but it was not enough as Jourdanton held on for an 8-5 victory. The loss allowed the Indians to secure a playoff series vs. Lago Vista as Natalia gets highly touted Blanco.
“Jeramiah Castro pitched well, and we just didn’t back him up on defense early on,” Martinez said. “Offensively we had way too many strikeouts. We didn’t put the ball in play as much as we would have liked.”
Diego Zapata 1-2-1RBI, Wyatt Woodson 0-4, Cade Fregia 0-3, Jeremiah Castro 2-4-1RBI-1run scored, Matt Contreras 1-3-2runs scored, Isaiah Gomez 1-3-2runs scored, AJ Felker 0-1, Matt Billalobos 0-1, Peter Billalobos 1-2-1RBI and Uriel Arellano 0-4.
Defensive Put-Out Leaders: P. Billalobos 10, Gomez 3, Zapata 3. Assists- Zapata 4, Contreras 4, Gomez 2.
Mustangs vs. Blanco
Natalia will face Blanco this coming Friday at 7:00 p.m. in a Bi-District battle at Marion High School at 7:00 p.m. The Panthers are 12-10 overall and 10-2 in District 25-3A, with both losses to District champion Georgetown Gateway Prep.
“For the 3rd straight year, we will match up against a tough Blanco team,” Martinez said. “They have a lot of returners from last year including their top two pitchers. They hit the ball extremely well so we will have to play our best solid game of the year. Their pitchers challenge you every pitch so we just have to put the ball in play to keep them on their toes.
“We understand that we haven’t had the outcome go our way against them but that’s why we play the game. It’s anyone’s game any day.”
By Eric Smith