Back on May 19, Mullen was 3-3 and very mediocre. Expectations for a talented group became tempered and some doubt crept into what was a late start to a new Season D.
However, three weeks and 10 consecutive victories later, the Mustangs are co-Centennial League champions and on the verge of hosting early rounds of the Class 5A playoffs.
They roared into a baseball cap to their regular season on Thursday with an eight-run sixth inning to win by mercy rule, 15-5 over Arapahoe in six innings at a Bill Swift Field that was as buzzing as it was scorching on a quite warm late afternoon. Prior to first pitch, Mullen was within .003 of a point of being within the top eight of the convoluted RPI playoff-qualifying system and, according to head coach Nick Arcuri, “must sit and wait” to see if it will host on Monday. Pairings will be announced on Sunday.
“These kids are awesome,” the coach said. “They just keep coming and coming …”
In finishing the regular season at 13-3 overall, the Mustangs were 11-3 in league and tied with Cherry Creek.
On Thursday, they overcame an early 2-0 deficit with 17 hits and rode the solid pitching of Chase Brickley, who shook off a couple of shaky moments to go the distance.
“It was one of those days where you don’t have your best stuff, and you don’t have it every day,” the senior right-hander said. “But it was kind of a relief after we put up that five-spot in the second.”
Brickley gave up a leadoff home run to open the game and was touched for another run in the second before Mullen bats came alive. Triples by Trevor Moore and Ben Krza, and singles by Henry Stewart and Sage Hurley were big in giving Mullen a 5-2 edge. A second Arapahoe error and a run-scoring single by Colin MacKLenzie upped it to 6-2 through three.
And despite Brickley getting banged around a bit in the fifth – he also wild-pitched in a run – he gave up no more. Stewart’s solo home run in the fifth provided some breathing room before the Mustangs’ eight-run sixth ended it.
All told, Moore, Stewart and MacKenzie each had three hits. Krza and Andres Terrones-Garcia, who both had two hits, joined Moore with three RBIs. Drew Garcia also drove home two. Shortstop Andrew Brady contributed two hits as well as two stellar defensive plays, one behind the bag at second base, the other behind the mound.
“It’s pretty sweet,” Arcuri said.
Brickley, now 4-0 said “it feels really good. I think all of the guys helped out so much on defense and hitting, and I can’t ask for a better group of guys. I hope we keep playing because this is the best fun l’ve had playing baseball.
“With our pitching staff and if we can hit the ball like this. I think we have a good chance this year.”
MULLEN 15, ARAPAHOE 5, 6 inn.
Arapahoe 110 030 -- 5 5 3
Mullen 050 118 -- 15 17 0
Mullen batting – Colin MacKenzie rf 3-0-1-1, Andres Terrones-Garcia 3b 4-1-2-3, Andrew Brady ss 4-1-2-0, Henry Stewart cf 4-3-3-1, Trevor Moore dh 4-2-3-3, Drew Garcia 1b 3-2-1-2, Sage Hurley 2b 4-2-3-1, Luca Maffoni lf 3-3-0-0, Ben Krza c 4-0-2-3, Kyle Muhal cr 0-0-0-0, Ben Hawes cr 0-1-0-0, Chase Brickley p 0-0-0-0. Totals 33-15-17-14.
LOB – Mullen 4. SAC – MacKenzie.
BB – Terrones-Garcia, MacKenzie, Maffoni, Garcia. 2B – Hurley, Terrones-Garcia, Garcia. 3B – Moore, Krza. HR – Stewart, solo in 5th.
Pitching – Brickley (W) 6 IP, 5 R, 5 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 4 Ks. HBP – Brickley – 1. WP – Brickley. T – 1:47.