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The Sweetwater baseball team is so close to its first playoff berth in nine years that the Mustang players can taste it. But despite a come-from-behind 8-4 win here Friday over Big Spring, they will have to wait at least four more days to celebrate their accomplishment.
However, Sweetwater (6-1 district, 14-11 overall) is still tied with Wylie for first place with three games left, and this Saturdayâ€™s game in Sweetwater between the two teams could decide the eventual 4-3A champion.
After scoring a total of just four runs in winning their last two games, the Mustangsâ€™ offense re-awoke on Friday.
Sweetwater collected 12 hits off Big Spring pitcher Adam Franco, getting at least one in every frame except for the first inning.
But the Mustangs were still able to jump out to a 1-0 lead in the first by taking advantage of an error, walk, force play on a ground ball out and a double steal.
Then things got a little bit rocky for Sweetwater, as the visiting Steers tied it with a run in the second and two more in the third off starting pitcher James Clift to open up a 3-1 advantage.
Sweetwater came roaring back, however, and Clift settled down on the mound, allowing just one more unearned run to improve to 4-0 in district play while also hurling his fourth consecutive complete game.
The Mustangs regained control of the contest by scoring five runs in the fourth to take a 6-3 lead, then added a pair of insurance tallies in the sixth.
Greg Aiken singled to lead off the fourth and scored on Sean Morrowâ€™s double to cut Big Springâ€™s lead to 3-2. Kaleb Hoover doubled and Clift was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Nick Nemir â€” Morrowâ€™s courtesy runner â€” came home on a passed ball to tie the game at 3.
Cole Maxwell, who went 3-for-3, then singled to score both Hoover and courtesy runner Quentin Wetsel and put Sweetwater ahead, and he scored the final run of the inning on a wild pitch for a 6-3 lead.
Clift helped his own cause some more in the sixth when he led off with a single that was followed by Maxwellâ€™s double. Dylan Bennett and Aiken both hit sacrifice flies in the inning that scored Wetsel and Maxwell, respectively, for an 8-3 lead.
Big Spring (4-3) got three straight hits to start the seventh and scored its last run to trim the lead to 8-4, but Clift retired Joseph More-lion on an infield grounder to end the game.
Hoover also went 3-for-3 at the plate, and seven starters had at least one hit.
To make the playoffs for the first time since 2004, Sweetwater needs only to win at 1-6 Monahans on Tuesday or for Snyder (3-4) to lose its game at Wylie. The Tigers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 4-2 win Friday over Monahans.