Victory number 600 didn’t look likely for Coronado coach Gary Hix.
The Mustangs trailed the Lubbock-Cooper Pirates 6-0 going into the fourth inning, but proceeded to pull off the type of memorable comeback that has punctuated Hix’s 29 years of coaching.
Coronado’s Caden Hensley singled in the winning run in walk-off style in the bottom of the seventh to lift the Mustangs to a 7-6 win over Lubbock-Cooper at Max O’Banion Field.
With the win, the Mustangs (17-11, 12-0 in district 4-5A) clinched the outright district title — their third in a row.
“What makes me proud is the way these guys fought and kept their heads in the game,” Hix said after the game in the midst of the team’s celebration with the district gold glove trophy. “I mean, 600 wins does mean something, but what really matters is seeing they way they pulled out this win tonight. Now we can put our focus on getting ready for the playoffs.”
Hix tipped his hat to Pirate starting pitcher Trey Garlett, who dominated the Mustang hitters in the first four innings before leaving the game after a hit by Coronado’s Landry Watson glanced off his throwing hand.
“You hate to see something like that,” Hix said. “That guy (Garlett) was in control of things and had everything going for him. You hate to see a ball hit his hand or arm and think about what that might have done to him.”
The Pirates grabbed control of the game early and, with Garlett throwing four strikeouts in the first two innings, looked to be in command of things. Lubbock-Cooper’s batters roughed up Mustang starting pitcher Zach Swindell with a pair of third-inning home runs to take a quick 4-0 lead. Junior Jarred Gibson smacked a two-run opposite-field home run that rode the stiff westerly wind over the right field fence, and Tommy D’Alise added a line shot solo home run over the left field fence to chase Swindell from the mound.
Swindell was making just his second start of the season, coming into the game with a 2.42 ERA in relief work.
“I had total confidence that our guys could come back if we could just make the game close,” said Swindell, who came through with his own bat later in the game for the Mustangs. “I had no doubt that Caden was going to end the game with a hit.”
The Pirates added to their lead in the fourth inning when Benton Ford doubled off the center field wall to drive in Jaeden Cowan for a 5-0 advantage. Gibson then hit an RBI single to bring Ford in for the 6-0 lead.
But then the momentum shifted. The Mustangs got on the scoreboard in the fourth, with Sawyer Robertson doubling to start the inning. Robertson scored on a sacrifice fly by Jaxson Edwards to cut the Pirate lead to 6-1.
The Mustangs finally got to Garlett in the fifth, with Landry Watson leading off with an infield single that appeared to bounce off Garlett’s hand. Garlett then walked Luke Pfeiffer before giving up RBI singles to Hensley and Cameron Stevenson.
Swindell then smashed a three-run home run over the left field fence to tie things up at 6-6 and set up the seventh-inning drama.
“I thought Bo Jacob Garza did a great job for us coming in the fourth and fifth and just shutting things down,” Hix said. “It was important to slow them down and give us a chance to get a big inning going, which is what we’re going to need to do in the playoffs.”
Coronado 7, Lubbock-Cooper 6
Cooper 0 1 3 2 0 0 0 6 10 2
Coronado 0 0 0 1 5 0 1 7 7 1
Lubbock-Cooper: Trey Garlett, Gunnar Englehardt (5), Zac Rubio (5) and Jarred Gibson; Coronado, Zach Swindell, Bo Jacob Garza (4), Landry Watson (6) and Jaxson Edwards. WP: Landry Watson. LP: Zac Rubio. 2B: Cooper, Benton Ford, Tommy D’Alise, Jaeden Cowan, Seth Freeman; Coronado, Sawyer Robertson; 3B: Cooper, Tommy D’Alise; HR: Cooper, Tommy D’Alise, Jarred Gibson; Coronado, Zach Swindell.