Walkoff hit in 8th ends SW’s season

May 20, 2013

Sweetwater’s best baseball season in a decade ended Saturday with a 7-6 loss to Andrews in an extra-inning thriller at Lubbock Christian University’s Hays Field. Shown, starting pitcher James Clift fires one to the plate. By advancing to the Region I-3A quarterfinals, the Mustangs equalled their best playoff finish since the baseball program was resumed in 1988. They last made it this far in 2003. (Photo by Ron Howell)

LUBBOCK — One day, maybe soon, the members of the Sweetwater baseball team will step back and realize what an amazing season they’ve had.
But now that it has finally ended, most of them prob-ably think they should still be playing.
After rallying from a 4-0 deficit to take leads of 5-4 and 6-5 late in Saturday’s contest, the Mustangs simply couldn’t put Andrews away in their Region I-3A quarterfinal series at Lubbock Christian University.
Andrews — which is also known as the Mustangs — rallied to tie the game both times and force extra innings, then used a Trevor Badgett walkoff single in the bottom of the eighth inning to end Sweetwater’s year in dramatic fashion with a 7-6 victory.
Andrews (23-15) won the best-of-3 series 2-0, with both wins — including Friday’s 4-3 victory — by a single run, and will play Stephenville in the I-3A semifinals. In fact, all four Andrews-Sweetwater games this season were decided by one run. Sweetwater — which snapped a nine-year postseason drought and equalled the program’s longest playoff run since baseball was resumed in 1988 — finishes the year at 19-16.
Sweetwater, on the very same field, had knocked out Pampa in the Class 3A area playoffs a week earlier.
Yet it had just one hit Saturday until exploding for five runs and six hits in the sixth inning to wipe out a 4-0 deficit.
Cole Maxwell was hit by a pitch and Dylan Bennett and Stephen May singled to load the bases. Greg Aiken then hit a sacrifice fly to score Maxwell. Sean Morrow’s double scored Bennett to narrow Andrews’ lead to 4-2.
An RBI double by Kaleb Hoover scored May, though Morrow was thrown out at the plate. But a single by J.P. Poe scored both cour-tesy runner Nick Nemir and Hoover, completing the rally and making it 5-4 in Sweetwater’s favor.
The lead didn’t last. Two singles and an error allowed Andrews to tie it at 5 in the bottom of the sixth. But Sweetwater came right back to take a 6-5 lead in the top of the seventh.
Bennett hit a leadoff sin-gle, and an intentional walk to Aiken and an infield Morrow single loaded the bases before James Clift drew a walk to score Bennett.Yet Sweetwater, trying to force the series to a third game, instead let Andrews rally to tie the game 6-6 and send it to extra innings.
This time, Sweetwater — whose four playoff wins over Fabens and Pampa had been by a total of five runs — was unable to fight back as Andrews staged the winning rally.
Clift, who pitched the first seven innings, was replaced by Maxwell after issuing a walk to Ryan Peralta in the bottom of the eighth. Pinch-runner Shane Dolgener went to second on a sacrifice, and then scored on Badgett’s line-drive single over third base to give Andrews the win and the series.
Andrews took a 4-o lead by scoring four runs in the fifth, the last three on an inside-the-park homer by Gunnar Rogers. Badgett’s courtesy runner, Garrett Bawcom, scored the first run on an RBI single by Austin Luna.
But Sweetwater, whose only hit to that point off Andrews pitcher Micah Brown was a third-inning double by Bray Amos, finally got untracked and chased Brown in the sixth.
Three players — Bennett, Morrow and Amos — each had two hits and Sweetwa-ter had nine in all, one less than Andrews. Sweetwater will be losing five seniors: Morrow, Maxwell, Shawn Campbell, Gabriel Melen-dez and Ryan Linebaugh.

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