Defense leads Lytle to bi-district win over EaglesFree Access

PLEASANTON—Lytle pitcher Jared Martinez had no eye-popping numbers from his start Thursday.

One strikeout. Eight hits. Four walks.

But his defense had his back.

The Pirates’ fielding was clean—save for a two-run error in the seventh—in a 4-2 bi-district win over Pleasanton that ended the Eagles’ season.

Pleasanton connected on a number of hard-hit balls that were snagged in the outfield.

“We were able to hit the ball, and we hit it hard. We [just] hit it right to them,” Eagles coach Jeff Niemietz said. “But we also made some errors on the bases that cost us a couple of opportunities to possibly score some runs. Credit to Lytle’s pitcher for keeping us off-balance early in the count with his off-speed. Some of us had a hard time adjusting to the pitches. We got eight hits, we just didn’t get timely hits.”

Lytle’s lone defensive mistake gave the Eagles a breath of life in the final inning.

Senior Gabriel Murillo had Pleasanton’s second consecutive hit on a line drive into center field. Pirates outfielder Jack Mills misplayed the ball, tumbling to the grass as the ball rolled past him.

Murillo raced behind John Briseño to score on the play and cut the deficit in half.

But like Martinez had all night, he induced a trio of fly balls to end the game. The final out came on a spectacular running grab by second baseman Logan Wilson in shallow right field.

In all, Martinez recorded 16 flyouts.

Pleasanton also had a pair of crucial missteps on the basepaths that hurt its cause.

The Eagles were doubled up at second base following a catch by Mills in the third, and the fifth inning ended after Pleasanton was caught stealing third. The Eagles left eight runners on base.

“We preach aggressive baserunning,” Niemietz said. “And when we have opportunities to take bases, I always tell the kids if you can get a good jump, by all means go for it. That’s just our style of baseball. Unfortunately you win some and you lose some.”

Lytle scrapped for its runs, scoring all four with two outs. In each of their two scoring innings, the Pirates led off with consecutive outs.

A throwing error in the third allowed Lytle to take a 1-0 edge. Back-to-back RBI hits, including a triple by Adan Ayala, put the Pirates in front 4-0 after five innings.

Justin Rangel and Hilton Mehrmann each had two hits for the Eagles. Mehrmann was charged with the loss after allowing three earned runs on five hits in six innings. He finished with seven strikeouts and two walks.

Pleasanton closed the season 12-13 overall after finishing as the third seed in District 30-4A.

“It was definitely a roller-coaster season,” Niemietz said. “The kids produced fight. They really did. They came through in the end of district to win a clutch game against Beeville that secured our playoff spot. And they showed fight at the end of this game…It’s a credit to the kids for their resolve and the fighting spirit that they have. I just hate to see it go.”

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