LUBBOCK â€” It would be hard for Sweetwater to complain too much after the Mustangs finished off their best-of-3 area round playoff series against Pampa in just two games on Saturday with an 8-6 win.
But getting the sweep at Lubbock Christian Univer-sityâ€™s Hays Field was certainly challenging â€” and more than a bit frustrating.
The Mustangs (19-14) not only had to endure two weather delays that totalled more than an hour, but also had to weather a final-inning storm of their own as Pampa (13-14) scored three times and had the go-ahead run at third base.
But joy finally erupted for Sweetwater when J.P. Poe, who pitched the final two innings in relief of starter Cole Maxwell, struck out Pampaâ€™s Tyler Powell on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
Sweetwater â€” which won Fridayâ€™s opener 1-0 at Lub-bock Cooper High School â€” will return to Hays Field at LCU this weekend to face Andrews in the Region I-3A quarterfinals in another best-of-3 series. The first game will be Friday at 6 p.m., followed by Game 2 at noon on Saturday with Game 3, if necessary, to start 30 minutes after that gameâ€™s conclusion.
Despite the weather del-ays, Sweetwater led 7-0 after four innings. But things got a lot tougher after that.
Pampa cut it to 7-3 with three unearned runs in the fifth inning. But Sweetwater got a run back in the bottom of the frame and seemed to have things in hand until the seventh, when it suddenly got shaky. Poe struck out Cade Engle for the second out, but Ryan Powellâ€™s double scored two runs and cut the lead to 8-5.
A single, hit batsman and fielderâ€™s choice ground ball narrowed it to 8-6 with the bases loaded, before Poe got his fifth strikeout to end it.
Coach Roland Herrera and his team now prepare for more playoff action at the same location, but against an Andrews team that split a pair of one-run decisions against Sweetwater during the regular season.
â€śYouâ€™re up 7-0 and think-ing you are in good shape,â€ť Herrera said following Sat-urdayâ€™s harrowing win. â€śBut thatâ€™s baseball.
â€śIt was one of those games where everything was rolling. But then we had a rain delay then a lightning delay, then an errors delay,â€ť referring to three miscues that allowed Pampa to score its first three runs in the fifth.
â€śI donâ€™t know what to say, really. But I know this â€” weâ€™re still alive and we get to play again.â€ť
Pampa used three pitchers, and starter Ethan Hunt lasted just 1.1 innings as the Mustangs scored three runs in the second, and two runs in the third and fourth, to build a big early lead.
A bases-loaded fielderâ€™s choice ground ball by Dylan Bennett made it 1-0, and a two-RBI double by Stephen May made it 3-0 before the first delay. When play resumed, it became 5-0 on an RBI single by Bennett and Mayâ€™s fielderâ€™s choice. Three errors in the fourth inning, plus a passed ball let Sweetwater tack on two more runs. Meanwhile, Maxwell was shutting down Pampa as he had a one-hit shutout to that point.
After Pampa cut it to 7-3, Sweetwater scored its final run when Bennett singled, went to third on Mayâ€™s sin-gle and scored on a sacrifice fly by Sean Morrow.
Eight starters had at least one hit as Sweetwater col-lected 12 in all. Poe also had a double for the Mustangs, who left 12 men on base and twice were retired with the bases loaded.