by nathan oster
The Mustangs didn’t win many games early, but they’re certainly making up for it in the final weeks of the regular season.
Manager Curtis Johnson said his team is playing some of its best baseball. It would be hard to argue with him, especially after the Mustangs’ 20-0 thumping of Otto Friday night at Legion Field.
Avery Swiftney went the distance on the hill, blanking the Rattlers over four innings.
The Mustangs didn’t have any “big” hits, but relied on a consistent, hit-it-where-they-ain’t approach to hang 20 on the scoreboard.
“Our hitting has really improved the last three or four games,” said Johnson. “All of a sudden, the bats are ringing. No one wants to strike out. They’re making good contact. We put up 12 against Cody, 10-runned Powell and 20-runned Otto. So the hits are definitely there.”
Johnson said the offensive outburst has coincided with a newfound aggressiveness on the basepaths. “All season, we’ve been a little apprehensive,” said Johnson. “But we’ve gotten more aggressive on steals and on our baserunning. Now when we get a hit to the outfield, we’re getting two bases instead of one.”
Johnson also liked his team’s defense against Otto, crediting the outfielders for catching all the balls they could get to and Carlos Rodriguez, the team’s shortstop, for two double plays. On both, he fielded sharp grounders up the middle, stepped on second for the force and fired to first.
The Greybull-based “C” team will get a well-earned breather this week before capping the regular season next week with a home game against Powell on Tuesday and a road game in Cody on Wednesday. Johnson said he isn’t sure if a game against Riverton on July 13 is going to be played. Either way, next week will be the final week of the season for the Mustangs, although Johnson said a few might play with Lovell at the upcoming state tournament.
“I’m really looking to close out the series with Powell and Cody,” said Johnson. “We beat Powell twice and Cody three times. I don’t want to be even with them. I want to win those season series and finish the season with three straight wins.”