Originally the San Antonio Edgewood ISD Tournament was scheduled to take part over a three day period, but Mother Nature had other plans.
After splitting pool games during day one of the tournament, the Natalia Mustangs were able to win two straight bracket games which advanced them to what was scheduled to be the championship on Saturday versus the Wagner Thunderbirds.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature was scheduled to hammer South Texas on Saturday which it did, resulting in the boys in blue taking the field around 9:30 p.m. on Friday to play their third game of the day versus the talented Thunderbirds. This turned into a game that nearly went into Saturday, wrapping up just before midnight.
Wagner was able to put pressure on the Mustangs in the title game, as the pitch-count rule came back to haunt Natalia a bit. Overall, it was a successful weekend as this squad continues to show positives.
“We were put to the test this past weekend as we played bigger schools than us,” Coach Philip Martinez said. “I am proud of how the kids responded each and every game.”
The Mustangs hit the baseball diamond on Thursday afternoon against the 5A Edison Golden Bears. Natalia was able to out-hit the Bears 4-1 en route to a 6-4 victory.
The Mustangs used two pitchers during the five inning battle. Gabriel Figueroa pitched 3.0 innings, allowed 1 hit, walked 4 and struck out 3 giving up 4 runs, 2 of which were earned.
Jeramiah Castro pitched 2.0, allowed 0 hits, walked 0 and struck out 2 giving up 0 runs in the contest.
At bat: Rey Garza 0-3-1RBI, Figueroa 0-3-1RBI, Manuel Saldana 1-3-1RBI, Castro 2-2-2runs scored, Isaiah Gomez 0-2, Javier Hernandez 0-3, Antonio Trevino 0-1-2runs scored, Alex Valdez 0-1-2runs scored and Dustin Richardson 1-2-3RBIs.
Natalia battled the 6A Los Fresnos Hawks in their final pool play contest of the tournament. Natalia was limited to a pair of hits, as three defensive errors also proved costly.
As a result, the valley squad blanked Natalia 8-0 during a four inning timed contest.
Hernandez pitched 3.0 innings, allowed 3 hits, walked 5, struck out 1 and allowed 8 runs, 4 of which were earned.
Matt Contreras pitched 1.0, allowed 0 hits, walked 1 and struck out 2 in his time on the mound.
At Bat: Garza 1-2, Figueroa 0-2, Saldana 0-2, Castro 1-2, Contreras 0-1, Gomez 0-1, Hernandez 0-0, Trevino 0-1, Valdez 0-2 and Richardson 0-1.
For the second time in a week, the Mustangs battled the 5A Kennedy Rockets on the baseball diamond. This time around the contest proved to be much closer due to a time-limit and a few great plays by the Rockets.
Natalia sophomore Castro pitched all five innings of the battle, as he allowed just a pair of hits, walked 1 and struck out 3 in the game.
The Stangs got things rolling offensively in the 2nd inning, as they used a Valdez error put into play, a Gomez error, a Trevino single and a Figueroa SAC bunt to score a pair of runs.
The final two runs for Natalia came in the top of the 3rd. They used a Hernandez HBP, a long error put into CF by Gomez, an error put into play by Figueroa and a single by Richardson to give the Stangs a 4-0 lead.
Kennedy scored their lone run in the 5th, but it was the boys in blue who handed the Rockets the second loss this season.
Natalia finished the game with 5 hits compared to just 2 by the Rockets. Natalia also forced 6 errors on the Rocket defense as Natalia gave up 2 errors.
At bat: Garza 0-3, Figueroa 1-3-1RBI, Saldana 0-3, Castro 0-2, Anton Felker 0-0, Gomez 1-2-2RBIs-1run scored, Hernandez 0-2-1run scored, Trevino 1-2-1run scored, Valdez 1-2-1run scored, Richardson 1-2 and Alejandro Sanchez 0-0.
With a shot at advancing to the Championship on the line, the Stangs battled the 5A Laredo Nixon Mustangs in their second bracket game of the tournament Friday evening at 5:45 p.m.
This turned into a seven inning defensive battle that showed a number of offensive opportunities on both sides of the inning along with a number of big plays defensively.
Garza pitched 7.0 innings for the Stangs, as he allowed 5 hits, walked 4 and struck out 7 in the game.
Natalia scored the first run of the game in the top of the 3rd inning. This came courtesy of a Garza base on balls, a fielder’s choice put into play by Hernandez, a passed ball and a long line out by Valdez.
In the bottom of the 4th, Nixon tied the game courtesy of three straight singles.
This game would finish tied 1-1, but Natalia was able to claim the win thanks to runners advanced to 3rd base during the game.
Natalia finished the game with 7 hits offensively as they had 0 errors defensively. Nixon had just 1 defensive error.
At bat: Garza 1-1-1run scored, Figueroa 2-2, Saldana 1-4, Castro 2-3, Felker 0-1, Gomez 0-3, Hernandez 0-3, Trevino 0-3, Valdez 0-4-1RBI and Richardson 1-3.
Championship vs. Wager
Coming into the title game versus the Thunderbirds, the Mustangs were a bit short-handed on the mound, as this game was scheduled to be the following day.
When you combine that with the fact the defense had 7 errors, a tourney high, it turned into a long night for the boys in blue.
Things were close in the opening inning, as Wagner scored four runs thanks to two errors, two hits and a walk.
Natalia responded with a pair of runs, thanks to an error put into play by Saldana, a base on balls by Castro and a double by Valdez.
From here on out, Wagner took control using scattered hits and Natalia errors to their advantage. Wagner scored four runs in the 2nd, three in the 3rd and one in the 4th en route to a 12-2 run rule victory over the Mustangs.
Wagner finished the game out-hitting the Mustangs 5-3, but 7 errors proved costly as Wagner only surrendered 2 defensively.
Natalia used a total of five pitchers on the mound during the game who were available (Figueroa 0.0, Diego Zapata 1.2, Matt Contreras 1.0, Isaiah Gomez 1.1, Trevino 0.0).
At bat: Garza 0-2, Zapata 0-1, Saldana 1-2-1run scored, Castro 0-2-1run scored, Felker 1-1, Gomez 0-1, Hernandez 0-1, Trevino 0-2, Valdez 1-2-2RBIs, Richardson 0-2 and Sanchez 0-0.
Natalia Mustangs Rey Garza, Javier Hernandez and Jeramiah Castro were named to the All-Tournament team for their efforts. Manuel Saldana was awarded the MVP of the Tournament.
“It is always good to see our kids earn honors for their performances,” Coach Martinez said. “Defensively this past weekend, we had a lot of great plays to get out of critical situations. Offensively, we are starting to see our bats come around and we are understanding what to do in certain situations when they come up.”
Natalia was on the road on press night in LaSalle County battling the Cotulla Cowboys at 6:00 p.m. in a non-district battle.
This coming weekend, Natalia travels to Frio County to compete in the 15th Annual Pearsall Round-Up Tournament. See the tourney story for further details.
On Tuesday, March 14th the Mustangs will be open as they prepare for their final non-district game on March 17th versus the Poteet Aggies.
By Eric Smith