DENVER CITY â€” They scored 21 runs in two games, answered every challenge Pecos threw their way and even belted their first home run of the season â€” a grand slam. And the pitching and defense, while not always rock-solid, were there when they had to be as well.
It all added up to a two-game sweep Saturday for Sweetwater, as the Mus-tangs completed a two-game sweep of Pecos with a 13-7 win in the teamsâ€™ best-of-3 Class 3A bi-district playoff.
Sweetwater will play Lub-bock Cooper in a best-of-3 area playoff this weekend, where it has a chance to celebrate another series win on its home field. Game 1 is at 7 p.m. this Friday at Cooper, but Game 2 will be played at 11 a.m. Saturday at Sweet-waterâ€™s Sportsmanâ€™s Park â€” as well as Game 3 right after that if necessary.
The Mustangs (20-9) had 23 hits in their two games against the Eagles, who finished 18-10. And none was bigger than Greg Aikenâ€™s bases-loaded homer in the third inning that propelled Sweetwater to a 5-1 lead.
â€śIt felt pretty good,â€ť Aiken said of his home run, which cleared the right field fence and also scored J.C. Poe, Dylan Bennett and Stephen May. â€śBut I didnâ€™t want to believe it was a home run until I saw it go out.â€ť
Sweetwater tied it 1-1 pri-or to Aikenâ€™s blast on a bases-loaded walk to May that scored Michael Lawrence, who began the rally with an infield single. Pecos, which scored in the bottom of the second for its only lead, never recovered though the Eagles did score three runs in the fourth inning to cut the Mustangsâ€™ lead to 6-5.
But Sweetwater would not be denied, scoring seven runs off Pecos pitching in the last two innings. And once again, May and Aiken played prominent roles. In the sixth, May singled and Aiken was hit by a pitch to force in runs for an 8-5 ad-vantage.
Aiken â€” who finished with six RBIs on just one hit â€” came up with the bases loaded again in the seventh and drew a walk to make it 11-5, and a two-RBI double by Tyler Beasley produced the last two runs.
Sweetwater also got RBI singles from Hayden Reeves and Bennett in the seventh, when they put the game out of reach by scoring five times on four hits. Reevesâ€™ hit scored Quentin Wetsel, who entered as a courtesy runner after James Clift led off the inning with a walk, while Bennettâ€™s hit scored Johnathan Browning, who came in to run for Reeves following his single.
Browning also scored as a courtesy runner for Reeves on a passed ball in the fourth inning to make it 6-2. In all, seven Sweetwater players scored and seven had hits to back the pitching of Clift, who went the distance with the help of all that offense.
â€śIâ€™m confident in our team,â€ť said May, one of five senior starters â€” along with Aiken, Bennett, Clift and Kaleb Hoover â€” with at least three years of varsity experience. â€śWeâ€™ve played together for many years. I donâ€™t ever doubt them.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™re looking better in every aspect now,â€ť said Aiken, who came up with the bases loaded his last four at bats. â€śItâ€™s (the playoffs) a fresh start for us.â€ť
â€śThe kids didnâ€™t seem to be in a panic mode; they seemed real confident,â€ť said head coach Roland Herrera, whose team has 20 wins for the first time since 2004, five years before he took over the program.
â€śI think theyâ€™re starting to play real good. I felt like we were a lot more patient at the plate. Nobody got frus-trated and Greg hitting the grand slam really helped a lot. I think (the players) know you either do it now or you donâ€™t. It you donâ€™t, you turn in your equipment.â€ť
Reeves had three hits, one on a infield popup that dropped in to start the sixth inning, while May, Beasley and Lawrence had two hits. Poe, one of three Sweetwater players hit by a pitch along with Aiken and Bennett, scored three runs for the Mustangs; Bennett, May, Lawrence and Browning all had two runs Saturday.
Clift (4-2) got a complete game win despite allowing eight hits and hitting one batter, Ramon Matta, three times. The team leader in innings pitched and strike-outs, he fanned seven.