ALVIN – Relief pitchers saved the season for the Friendswood Mustangs in Friday’s regional quarterfinal game against Santa Fe, pitching lights out after a shaky outing from their starter and accounting for the game-winning walk-off hit in the bottom of the 10th inning.
With two outs in the 10th and runners on second and third base, Mustangs pitcher Eric Spong smacked a base hit into center field to give Friendswood a 3-2 win in Game 2 of the best-of-three playoff series with the Indians.
Left fielder Bryan Fowler hit a one-out double, and third baseman Drew Barba drew a two-out intentional walk in the 10th. Fowler and Barba advanced a base each on a passed ball.
Spong picked up the win on the mound, pitching four innings and giving up no runs, three hits and no walks with four strikeouts.
Reliever to the rescue
After Santa Fe scored one run in the top of the first and already had another with one out in the second, it looked like things could come unraveled in the must-win game for Friendswood.
Pitcher Garrett Cragin was inserted into the game with the bases loaded and only one out, but managed to get the Mustangs out of trouble by forcing a pop fly to second base and getting a strikeout to end the inning.
While the Friendswood bats struggled early, Cragin kept the Mustangs in the game, throwing 42/3 innings and allowing no runs, no hits, three walks and three hit batters with eight strikeouts.
Through the first 122/3 innings of the third round playoff series with Santa Fe, Friendswood had only three hits and were scoreless.
That changed with a pivotal two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth that tied the game at 2.
A two-base second baseman error on a grounder by Mustangs first baseman Walter Williams got the rally started, and the Santa Fe lead was cut in half on an RBI single by Barba.
Center fielder Ryan Bertlesman was reinserted into the game and took advantage of his only at-bat with a single. Designated hitter Carson Kaufman then tied the game with an RBI double.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after a catcher throwing error on a double steal allowed pitcher Preston Plovanich to score after Plovanich hit a leadoff single and center fielder Brandon Holder reached on a walk. In the second inning, a bases loaded walk to third baseman Timothy Johnson scored Santa Fe’s second run.
However, both innings ended with the bases loaded with Indians. In fact, Santa Fe ended the game with a total of 16 runners left on base — 13 of which came in the first six innings when Santa Fe was in the lead.
The Indians also got a solid performance from Plovanich on the mound. Plovanich threw eight innings giving up two runs (one earned) on six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts.
High school playoff glance
Friendswood vs. Santa Fe
All games at Alvin High School
Game 1: Santa Fe 1, Friendswood 0
Game 2: Friendswood 3, Santa Fe 2 (10)
Game 3: 12:30 p.m. today