Great pitching can’t save SW

Ron Howell
Sports Editor

IOWA PARK — One run.
That represents the total that Burkburnett scored off Sweetwater pitching in 13 innings of work Friday in the teams’ bi-district best-of-3 playoff series.
And it was unearned.
One run, however, was all the Bulldogs needed to end the Mustangs’ season.
Sweetwater began Friday with a 5-0 win to force a decisive Game 3 as Tony Heredia pitched a four-hit shutout to even the series.
The only run of the finale, though, was by Burkburnett on an errant pickoff throw by Sweetwater catcher Tyler Warner in the third inning.
The Bulldogs’ 1-0 victory was a heartbreaking finish to the Mustangs’ season. Burkburnett (18-10) moves to the second round to face No. 7 Godley, while Sweetwater ends up 14-14.
Game 3 pitcher Chris Thompson was almost as dominant on the mound as Heredia, as he allowed just five hits with five strikeouts in six innings.
As good as Thompson was, however, his counterpart — Jacob Acheson of Burkburnett — was slightly better. Acheson allowed one hit — Mason Maxwell’s infield single in the second inning — struck out seven and allowed just five baserunners, none of whom got further than second base.
Kody Bigford scored the Bulldogs’ run as he reached on a fielders’ choice, stole second base, went to third on a wild pitch and came home on the throwing error.
The Mustangs had threats erased by double plays in the third and fourth innings. Kiante McCoy reached on a Burkburnett error in the sixth and McCoy, Maxwell and Kobe Clark drew walks.
Maxwell’s hit led off the second, but he was stranded as the next three batters all struck out to end the threat.
Burkburnett lost 2-1 in a one-game playoff to Sweetwater last year in Round 1.
Heredia helped Sweetwater even this year's series with a sensational pitching effort. He allowed just four hits and struck out 10 in a seven-inning complete game, while issuing just one walk.
Sweetwater, meanwhile, scored all its runs in two innings — a three-run third and two-run fourth.
Heredia, a sophomore, hit the pitch limit on his last batter after fanning the first two in the seventh inning, then got a ground ball hit to Thompson who threw out the runner from shortstop to end the game.
Thompson drove in the Mustangs’ first run with a single in the third after Isak Alvarez (single) and McCoy (error) both reached base to start the inning.
Maxwell, who had five hits in the series, doubled to make it 3-0. In the fourth, Ky Hoover and Clark hit back-to-back triples to make it 4-0 and Clark came home on a sac fly by McCoy for the Mustangs’ other run.
Alvarez and Clark had two hits and all but two of Sweetwater’s nine batters hit safely. All four Burkburnett hits were singles — two by Bigford and one each by Cole Schultz and Garrett Mooney.
Bigford reached third base in the first and sixth innings only to be stranded each time, as Heredia got the final out in both frames to preserve his shutout.

Pictured: Tony Heredia is shown pitching Game 2 for Sweetwater. The right-hander had a four-hit shutout to tie the series at 1-1 for the Mustangs before Burkburnett came back to win Game 3.
Photo courtesy of Lauren Roberts/Wichita Falls Times Record News