Mustangs Lead

Mustangs pitcher Steve D’Amico throws against a Clarinda A’s batter during Wednesday’s game at Phil Welch Stadium.

In yet another low-scoring, defensive struggle, the Mustangs managed to pull off a 2-1 victory over the Clarinda A’s.

“That’s just one of those hard-fought wins you need in a successful season,” said Mustangs manager Matt Johnson.

For most of the game, neither team could string together enough hits to kick-start much offense.

The sole instance offensive production for the Mustangs through the first half of the game occurred in the bottom of the second inning. Jeremiah Figueroa connected on one of the best hits of the night with a strike deep right field that bounced off the outfield wall.

That resulted in a double, and a Brady Anderson sacrifice fly on the next at bat put him in position to run in on a Joshua Lincoln line drive to close out the possession.

The Mustangs, despite the team’s lack of overall runs, were able to put runners on base and in scoring position multiple times in their first home game since Saturday.

In the fourth, the savvy Mustangs base-runners were able to take advantage of some wild pitching to get Colton Pogue and Figueroa on second and third base with only one out. But a Derek Hussey flyout and a crushing strikeout by Lincoln ended the inning with nothing to show on the scoreboard.

A crucial but similarly frustrating inning for Mustangs fans and players alike was the series of events in the bottom of the seventh.

With the A’s having scored the previous inning on a last-second run from Alex Henwood, the Mustangs would utilize a succession of timely bunts to get their fastest runners on base. A wild pitch to first ran Hussey in to give the Mustangs the lead.

With the bases loaded and two outs to burn, the A’s turned a triple play on a grounder to second, depriving the Mustangs of what would have been some much-appreciated insurance runs.

Johnson elaborated on the team’s abilities when it comes to successful bunting.

“We have so much speed, where really as long as we can put the ball in play, guys like (Brody) Santilli and Lincoln can normally find their way to base,” Johnson said. “It causes havoc for the defense and opens up holes for us to attack later on in the game.”

With a one-run lead in the ninth, Mustangs fans held their breath as A’s batter Matt Mullenbach connected on a double to center field and a sacrifice fly from a Clarinda teammate advanced him to third.

Pitcher Nikko Pablo and the Mustangs’ defense came through in the clutch, though, with a strikeout on the next at-bat and a putout at first to win the game.

Levi Smith can be reached at levi.smith@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPsports.