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SNYDER â€” After prod-ucing 30 runs over its last three games, Sweetwaterâ€™s offense was held in check by Snyder pitcher Taylor Munkres on Friday.
Fortunately, Sweetwaterâ€™s James Clift was doing just as well for the Mustangs as he got the pitching win in a 3-2 victory over the Tigers.
But Cliftâ€™s outstanding pitching â€” he gave up just three hits â€” was just part of his heroics. He also drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh with a sharp single to break a 1-1 tie. And after being replaced on the mound and moved to third base in the bottom of the inning, Clift fielded a ground ball and threw out Snyderâ€™s last hitter to secure the win and allow Sweetwater (4-1) to remain tied for first place with Wylie. Wylie beat Big Spring 9-3 on Friday. Sweetwater and Wylie now lead Big Spring (3-2) by a game in the 4-3A race, while Snyder fell two games out of first as it dropped to 2-3.
It was 1-1 after the first inning of Fridayâ€™s game, but remained scoreless until the seventh when Shawn Campbell led off Sweet-waterâ€™s half with a walk.
His pinch-runner, Bray Amos, then stole second, went to third on an error and scored on Cliftâ€™s single to make it 2-1.
Nick Nemir, Cliftâ€™s cour-tesy runner, moved to sec-ond on a wild pitch and scored on Dylan Bennettâ€™s single, chasing Munkres before reliever Cutter Der-ryberry got the third out.
Snyder cut Sweetwaterâ€™s lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh after a leadoff single, hit batter and walk loaded the bases and a wild pitch brought in a run.
But Cole Maxwell, who replaced Clift on the mound, got the save when he struck out Jacob Chappell on a 3-2 pitch and induced a ground ball by Logan Tate that went to Clift, who fired to first baseman Greg Aiken in time for the final out.
â€ś(Snyder) is a good team,â€ť Sweetwater coach Roland Herrera said after the game. â€śBut my hat really goes off to our guys. Everybody worked hard tonight and did their job. Thatâ€™s what weâ€™ve been preaching. And James did an excellent job out there.â€ť
â€śI was just trying to keep the ball down and move it around,â€ť said Clift, who is 5-1 this season. He struck out one and walked four.
Snyder pushed across a run in the first on a walk, stolen base, sacrifice and RBI grounder, and in the second put runners at second and third after a walk and throwing error.
But Clift retired the next hitter for the third out, and was in complete control from that point until the seventh inning.
Sweetwater looked as if it might chase Munkres early as the first three hitters â€” Bennett, May and Aiken â€” all drew walks to load the bases and Bennett came home on a wild pitch.
However, a strikeout and a second out after a failed suicide squeeze bunt helped the Tigers get out of the inning without any further scoring damage.
Sweetwater put a runner on base in four of the next five innings, including a pair of singles by J.P. Poe and walks to Stephen May and Aiken, but was unable to capitalize. The Mustangs had just four hits â€” the two by Poe plus the RBI singles by Clift and Bennett.
Sweetwater is at Green-wood (1-4) on Tuesday to start the second half of district play, and hosts Big Spring on Friday.