After an extremely short preseason, (2 Games) due to the great run of the basketball team, the Punchers Baseball team headed straight into District play. With the first 2 games against play-off hopeful Medina and the play-off bound Johnson City, the Punchers struggled to get the basketball players in baseball mindset and wasn’t until the third game of the season against Center Point that the team was complete.
The Punchers were able to secure their first win against Center Point with the strong pitching of Austin Trip (13 k’s strike outs) and the hot bats of several of the players. We then had a non-district game against Harper. Ben Bjork had a commanding presence on the mound. (9 K’s), but the Punchers couldn’t hold on to the lead in extra innings. Eldorado was our next game. Austin Trip pitched a complete game and got the win.
The bats again were hot with almost all players crossing the plate at some time during the game. Mason then traveled to Menard. Ben Bjork was on the mound again getting the win with Austin Trip coming in relief for the save. Once again 8 out of 9 players crossed the plate to score. Rock Springs then came to town to finish the first round of District games. Dillon Estes pitched the complete game and got the win. He had 9 k’s in 5 innings as the bats came alive to allow the Punchers to 10 run the Angoras in the 5th inning.
Off we go to round 2. Medina beat us with the 10 run rule in the first game and seemed a bit confident as the came to Mason. This time though, things were different. Mason bats again were hot and Austin Trip was strong on the mound with 9 k’s and the Punchers were able to 10 run the Bobcats. The Punchers traveled to Johnson City and things were definitely different. The team could not get anything going and subsequently lost. Center Point round 2. Austin Trip was back on the mound striking out 8 batters. In the sixth inning, the players rallied with their bats to pull out a one run win.
Eldorado was next on the schedule. A lot was riding on this game. Win the Punchers go to the play-offs in 2nd, lose and they go in 3rd place. Eldorado was hungry after losing the first game. The wind was again howling as it seems it always does in Eldorado. Austin Trip struggled a bit on the mound and with some fielding errors , Mason was unable to hold the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning and Eldorado was able to put the winning run across the plate.
Dillon Estes pitched a great game against Menard. He had good command of all his pitches. (13 K’s) All 9 players batted in the 6th inning and Mason again was able to secure a nice win. The last District game was against Rock Springs who were winless and the Punchers planned to keep it that way. Due to some discrepancies in the pitching mound, Austin Trip had to make some adjustments to his pitching delivery, but the bats again were strong. With the score 18-0 in the 5th inning, Chance Stockbridge came in to close the game and was able to get 2 strike outs and a ground out to end the District season.
Since the play-offs don’t start till May 6th, the Punchers had a long break so Coach Smith scheduled a practice game with Harper who will also be going to the play-offs. Dillon Estes was on the mound for the Punchers and had a solid game especially with the 50 MPH wind gust. Three runs were scored in the first innings for the Punchers and then went cold. Harper was able to put 12 runs across the plate by the 6th inning. Going into the top of the 7th, the Punchers were down 12 to 4. Never to give up, the Punchers battled back, but when the dust settled came up a little short to lose 12 to 10.
Just a little bit about the players in the field. Starting with the Freshmen, it is hard to be thrown on the varsity as Freshmen, but you wouldn’t know it by the performance of Driego Martinez and Elliott Bibb. They have done their part wherever they have been told to play. Sophomore Kolby Yonker did a really good job whether he was playing 1st, 3rd, or being the designated hitter. Our Juniors, Chance Stockbridge is as solid a Short Stop and base stealer as they come. Andy Duarte has done a good job at Second Base especially when dividing his time between baseball and tennis. We were very happy when Bodie Adams returned to the team and has been very effective in Center Field. Behind the plate for all but one game, Winston Trip has worked with which ever pitcher has been on the mound and has an outstanding percentage of throwing out runners trying to steal bases. Austin Trip when not pitching has worked hard at Third Base. Rounding out our Seniors, Chase Crouch has gone from Center Field to Left Field when Bodie returned and has been very consistent. Jansen Rychlik played any outfield position he was told to and we will miss him due to his broken collar bone. Dillon Estes again when not on the mound plays Third Base or First Base.
Folks, this team has overcome lots of issues this year and are on their way to the play-offs. This is the first time since 1996-1997 that Mason Baseball has had back to back play-off teams. That is something to be very proud of! The Bi-District game will be played Friday May 6 in Bandera at 7 against Charlotte. The Mason fans have followed faithfully football and basketball in the play-offs, now let’s follow baseball as well. See you in Bandera.