Mustangs visit Cooper to start the next round

The Sweetwater baseball team reached two of its goals by beating Pecos twice this past weekend in the Class 3A bi-district playoffs.The two victories gave the Mustangs (20-9) their first 20-win season since 2004. It also marked just the seventh time Sweetwater had won a playoff series since 1988, and gave the team back-to-back wins for the first time since mid-March. Sweetwater was just 3-6 in that time before breaking loose against Pecos, scoring 21 runs in its two victories. That renewed dose of confidence should be quite helpful when the Mustangs travel to Lubbock Cooper to start a best-of-3 area playoff series at 7 p.m. today, before serving as the host team for Game 2 at 11 a.m. Saturday. Sweetwater will also, if necessary, host Game 3 immediately afterward at Sportsman’s Park.“We’re starting to hit the ball better and we’ve cut down on mental errors,” said coach Roland Herrera, who has guided the Mustangs to playoff appearances the last two years after a nine-year drought. “But we’re never going to be satisfied, though we’re closer to the point we want to be.”Lubbock Cooper, a state semifinalist in 2013, has one of the top programs in the state. The Pirates, who beat Amarillo River Road 4-0 in their bi-district playoff, are just 13-17 this year but have faced tough competition, Herrera said. “But I don’t really think they have an advantage over us,” he said. “It’s about who’s going to show up and play.”Sweetwater totalled 24 hits while twice overcom-ing early deficits last week against Pecos. In both games, the Mustangs began their comeback with a big third inning. Nine of their 21 runs came in that frame. Sweetwater tied Game 1 at 4-4 with a four-run third, and took a 5-1 lead on Pecos in Game 2 with a five-run outburst highlighted by Greg Aiken’s grand slam. It was the Mustangs’ first home run of the season.Junior J.P. Poe (7-2) will face Cooper’s Tanner Dou-cette in today’s opener, Herrera said. Doucette threw a two-hit shutout over Amarillo River Road in the teams’ one-game playoff. Poe got the Game 1 win for Sweetwater this past Friday, despite having a rough third inning when Pecos scored all four of its runs. He came back to retire 12 of the last 13 batters, including 11 in a row.Sweetwater is hitting .321 as a team, with seven starters at .300 or better. This week’s winner plays Wylie or Andrews in the regional quarterfinals. Wylie beat Andrews 8-5 to begin the best-of-3 series Thursday.