BROWNWOOD — After hitting its low point of the season in a district-opening 16-1 home loss to Wylie on March 20, the Sweetwater baseball team is suddenly hitting its stride — and the Mustangs are hitting the ball pretty darn well, too.
Wednesday’s convincing 14-8 victory at Brownwood certainly drove home the last point. Sweetwater belted 15 hits off three pitchers while handing the three-time defending district champion Lions their first defeat in 5-3A play. The win leaves both squads at 1-1 in district and tied for second place behind Wylie (3-0), a 9-7 winner over Big Spring on Wednesday.
There were strong indi-cations that the Mustangs (8-7-1) would be ready for Brownwood, based on their 4-2 home win over Class 5A Odessa High on Saturday. And they wasted little time proving it, scoring five runs in jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the second inning. The Lions, though collecting 12 hits, never recovered from that early surge as Sweetwa-ter answered every Brown-wood rally from then on.
The Lions got within 6-4 after a three-run fourth, but Sweetwater matched it by scoring three runs in the top of the fifth for a 9-4 lead. Brownwood’s James Crow hit a two-run homer to make it 9-6, but Sweetwater scored five times in the sixth to open up a commanding 14-6 advantage and held on for the victory.
Sweetwater — which is back on the road at 7 p.m. Friday for another key district game at Snyder (0-2) — matched a one-game season high with Wednesday’s 14-run outburst. And nearly everyone on the team played a big role in defeating the Lions. Willie Norman and Greg Aiken had three hits while Shawn Campbell, James Clift, Ryan Linebaugh and Brandon Howell had two each. Howell and Clift had three RBI while Camp-bell and Aiken drove in two runs each, and Norman and Sean Morrow also delivered RBI hits. Nine different players crossed the plate at least once. Campbell’s two-run triple, which increased Sweetwater’s lead to 4-0 in the second inning after Clift had a two-run single, was the only extra-base hit.
The three-run fifth feat-ured RBI singles by Howell and Aiken, and the five-run sixth included hits by six different players. Howell’s bases-loaded single drove in two runs and Morrow, Aiken and Clift also had RBI hits before the damage was done.
Clift got the pitching start for Sweetwater and pitched 3 1/3 innings before he was lifted for Stephen May, who went the final 3 2/3.
Of the Lions’ eight runs, three were unearned as the Mustangs committed four errors in the contest.