Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
The Mineral Wells Rams (9-8) kept things close early, but ultimately fell to the Argyle Eagles in their non-district finale, 11-3, on a beautiful Friday afternoon at Pratt Field.
The Rams battled to a 1-1 tie after two innings and stayed within striking distance with Argyle ahead, 5-3, at the end of the third. But Argyle soon strung some hits together and it wasn't long before the Eagles put the game out of reach.
Rams' head coach Bret Barrick was pleased with his team's effort, saying the experience against a quality opponent like Argyle will prove invaluable when Mineral Wells begins the most important part of its schedule next week: the District 6-3A slate.
"They're a good team and we were right there," he said. "It was 5-3 and things were going good. We both threw up zeroes in the fifth, and I'm thinking, 'Hey, we got a chance.' And then we kind of let the wheels fall off.
"But our kids played well. Give Argyle credit. They've got good pitching, solid defense and offensively, they didn't crush the ball, but they did put the ball in play and they got runners moving.
"I thought it was a good game for us warming up. We got a lot of guys to throw on the mound. We got some good work defensively and we had some good at-bats against good pitching. That was our goal, to kind of get us ready to rock-and-roll and go to work when we start district next Tuesday."
Five pitchers saw the mound for the Rams as Chris Rapp threw three innings to start, followed by Cameron Bullock, McCain Mason, Braxton Allen and Colby Kissinger, who each pitched one.
Rapp took credit for the loss, but threw a 1-2-3 second and joined Bullock and Kissinger as the only Mineral Wells pitchers to toss scoreless frames against the Eagles.
Bullock and Kissinger stood out individually as well. Bullock loaded the bases in the fourth, but masterfully worked his way out of the jam with some help from Kissinger running down a base runner and a popup and strikeout to end the inning.
Kissinger closed the game out in the seventh with a 1-2-3 performance, bookended by strikeouts.
Outside of Rapp's four-run third – in which Argyle put together a walk and three hits – the biggest problem for Mineral Wells was consecutive three-run innings in the fifth and sixth frames. Of those six runs scored, four came across the plate on passed balls or wild pitches. Barrick said the miscues didn't worry him in the Rams' last game before district.
"It's not a big concern for me right now," he said. "We haven't had a bunch of wild pitches this year. It's just one of those deals where a couple of balls got away from us. The catchers did a good job of trying to get over and get a piece of them, we just didn't get them blocked up. I think we'll be good."
Offensively, the Rams fought tooth and nail for every opportunity they got against a quality Eagle pitching staff.
Allen was the first to reach base on a hard-hit double in the second. He was brought home by an RBI single off of Bullock's bat.
But the highlight of the game came in the bottom of the third, when Mason crushed a two-run homer over the left field fence to bring himself and Kissinger home and cut the score to 5-3.
With the Argyle game behind them, the Rams can finally turn their collective attention to the 44-mile drive east for their first district matchup against the Lake Worth Bullfrogs.
Barrick summed up the Rams' focus heading in to the game with one word: win.
"Everybody's focused and everybody's goal is to win," he said. "We'll take them one game at a time, one inning at a time and one pitch at a time. Don't look ahead, don't look behind. Nothing else matters right now. Everybody's 0-0. Starting on Tuesday, we have a chance to be 1-0 and that's our focus."
First pitch against the Bullfrogs is set for 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, at Lake Worth High School.