Mustangs beat Jourdanton to finish second in District

Jeramiah Castro is ready to make a play on a sliding Jourdanton base runner. See more photos in our online store!

In a battle for 2nd place in 26-3A, the Natalia Mustangs battled the Jourdanton Indians Monday night at Devine Warhorse Field. Natalia stormed out to a 7-1 lead before fending off a late Indian rally to pick up a 7-5 victory and secure the 2nd seed in district place.
The Mustangs (12-8-1, 6-2) will have their hands full as they battle the District 25-3A 3rd seed Blanco Panthers (15-9, 8-4) in a best of three Bi-District series this coming Friday and Saturday at Edgewood ISD Field.
“We did a great job of jumping on them early. It was the third time that we were facing their same pitcher so we had to make adjustments compared to the previous two times. Rey Garza & Gabriel Figueroa have us an opportunity every inning to let our defense play. It’s hard to see guys get free bases based on walks”, said Coach Philip Martinez.
This was not a flawless battle by any means by either team Monday night, as the game was filled with more miscues than execution. One thing that was evident on both sides of the field, was never ending effort by both squads.
The Mustangs were able to edge the Indians 6-5 in the offensive category as both squads finished the game with five costly errors each.
J-town struck first in their opening at bat, as they used a Will Soward walk with two outs to produce a run thanks to a Natalia defensive error.
Natalia responded with a big 1st inning, as they used errors put into play by Jeramiah Castro and Rey Garza along with a base clearing double by Nathan Vasquez to score two runs for the Stangs. Vasquez would score, thanks to a double by Gabe Figueroa.
After holding Jourdanton scoreless in the 2nd inning (they stranded two runners), the Mustangs responded with a big 2nd inning. Natalia used a base on balls by AJ Felker, an error put into play by Isaiah Gomez, an error put into play by Manuel Saldana a single by Castro, a ground-out by Garza and a passed ball to score four runs giving the boys in blue a 7-1 lead.
Big Red responded in the top of the 3rd, as they produced a pair of runs courtesy of a Talamantez double, a Soward triple and an error put into play by Galindo cutting the deficit to 7-3.
From here on out, the Mustangs stranded a total of six runners as they had numerous missed chances to put this game away.
Jourdanton scored two final runs with their 4th run coming in the 4th inning. This was courtesy of a Meyer single and three straight walks which were problematic all night with each of the three pitchers for Natalia.
Jourdanton’s final run of the inning came in the top of the 7th. Once again a walk proved costly as it scored on a stolen base and a Natalia error. The biggest play of the inning was when LF Manuel Saldana caught a line drive for out #1 of the inning before gunning a runner out at home on a nice tag by Hernandez for the second out of the inning.
Gabe Figuero who was the 3rd pitcher of the game for Natalia, finished the game with his 5th K of the game to help Natalia secure the 7-5 victory.
Garza pitched the first 3.1 innings for Natalia as he allowed five hits, walked 1, struck out four and allowed four runs, two of which were earned.
Castro pitched 0.0 innings, and walked three before being replaced by Figueroa. Gabe finished the 3.2 innings, allowed 0 hits, walked two, struck out five and allowed one unearned run.
At Bat: Garza 0-3-1RBI-1run scored, Figueroa 1-4-2RBIs, Saldana 0-4-1run scored, Castro 2-4-1RBI-2runs scored, Felker 1-2-1run scored, Gomez 0-1-1run scored, Hernandez 0-1, Antonio Trevino 0-0, Vasquez 1-4-2RBIs-1run scored and Alex Valdez 1-2.
Defensive Put-Outs: Hernandez 7, Figueroa 4, Valdez 3, Dustin Richardson 2, Garza 1, Saldana 1, Castro 1, Vasquez 1. Assists- Vasquez 2, Garza 1, Saldana 1, Figueroa 1, Hernandez 1 and Valdez 1.
Bi-District Series set
The Natalia Mustangs will battle a traditionally tough Blanco Panther squad this Friday and Saturday at Edgewood ISD Field. A season ago, the Panthers defeated the Mustangs in two straight games as they were led by their Division I talent Tyler LaRue who is the son of former major league catcher Jason LaRue.
“Blanco will be a very tough team. They are in a tough district so we will have to go on their a play solid defense with our offense giving is every opportunity we play. We played them last year and it didn’t go our way,” said Coach Martinez.
The Panthers finished in 3rd place in a very competitive district behind district champion Georgetown Gateway Prep who slipped past district favorite Lago Vista in the final week of district play.
The Vikings of LV finished 2nd and are set to battle Jourdanton in the Bi-District Playoffs. Coming in 4th in 25-3A, was the Florence Buffalos.
Game one of the series will be Friday night at Edgewood Field at 7:00 p.m. with game two to follow on Saturday at noon. If a third game is needed, it will be 30 minutes following game two on Saturday.
The winner of the Natalia-Blanco battle will face the winner of #3 Hallettsville (27-3A Champ) vs. Industrial (4th in 28-3A) in the Area Playoffs next week.
By Eric Smith
Staff Writer