Sometimes when two evenly matched teams face one another in a win or lose situation, the outcome may be determined by the overall emotional demeanor of one of the teams.
In the final game of the best-of-three series between Friendswood and Santa Fe, it was clear that the Mustangs had the emotional edge that carried over from their 3-2 win in 10 innings from the previous night.
“It was a continuation from last night, I would say,” Friendswood head coach Charlie Taylor said. “They knew what the situation was today, and they came out knowing it was going to be another battle. It went 10 long innings (Friday). It could have gone either way then, and it could have gone either way (Saturday).”
The Indians won the first game of the series in a one-run battle. The Mustangs entered the second game with a mandate to win and keep their season alive.
It took 10 innings, but the never-say-die Mustangs pulled out the win setting up a third and final game in the series.
Bryan Fowler hit a one-out double in the bottom of the 10th, Drew Barba was intentionally walked after Walker Williams struck out on a foul tip as Fowler and Barba moved to second and third. That set up Eric Spong’s walkoff single to centerfield that plated Fowler for the winning run and setting up the rubber game in the series.
Friendswood scored first in the third game when Lael Lockhart singled, moved to second on a sacrifice, moved to third on a single by Barba and then scored on the throw from the outfield for a 1-0 lead.
Lockhart opened up the third with another single, moved to second on a pass ball, and advanced to third on a ground out by Fowler. That set up a single by Williams to the centerfielder who attempted to cut down Lockhart at the plate but the throw was a little late as Lockhart slid under the take giving Friendswood a 2-0 lead.
Santa Fe scored a run in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to 2-1 and then David Reyna belted a solo home run in the top of the fifth to knot up the game at 2-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Jacob Gwynn opened the frame with a walk, moved to second after Lockhart was safe when the first baseman failed to keep his foot on the bag from the throw from third leaving runners on first and second with no outs.
Fowler stepped up and sacrificed both runners to second and third and Williams lofted a long fly to center. Gwynn tagged up and beat the throw to the plate giving the Mustangs a 3-2 advantage.
That was all they needed as pitcher Ryan Shetter, who stepped on the mound in relief of Daniel Cooley in the fifth inning, didn’t allow a run or hit the rest of the way to register the win and send the Mustangs to the 4A Region III semifinals against Brenham.
Cooley did a great job on the mound holding the Indians to only two runs on two hits while walking four and striking out three. He did allow the home run in the top of the fifth.
“Daniel hadn’t been pitching in our rotation much since tournament time, and he came in (Saturday) and stepped up and showed what his capabilities are,” Taylor said. “He did a great job.”
The Mustangs were limited to only four hits, but they were all big.
Lockhart led the way going 2-for-2 with two singles and two runs scored. Williams was 1-for-3 with one RBI and a sacrifice fly that produced the winning run.
Santa Fe starter Stephen Neumann gave up three runs on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts. Brandon Holder was equally impressive in relief, pitching 1 2/3 innings with no earned runs on no hits and one walk with three strikeouts.