Kirkland slams game-winning homer

FRIENDSWOOD — Friendswood had already punched their ticket to the post-season while Ball High needed a win to nail down the fourth and final playoff spot for District 24-4A.

Both teams wanted the win, but neither one was going to go down without a fight.

Lael Lockhart took the mound for the Mustangs and he was at the top of his game as he didn't allow a single hit or run over 4 2/3 innings while walking two and striking out eight. Ryan Shetter took over for Lockhart and pitched 2 1/3 innings. He struck out six of the seven batters he faced while combining for the no-hitter which is a rare feat in itself.

Ball High threatened to score in the fifth inning when Parker Prets and Simeon Williams were on second and third base with two outs. That's when Friendswood head coach Charlie Taylor made the decision to bring in Shetter in relief of Lockhart. Shetter put out the threat by striking out Brandon Enriquez to keep the no hitter intact.

Friendswood also had a couple of scoring opportunities, but Ball High starter Jake Simon got out of the threats without giving up any runs.

Up to the seventh inning, Simon had allowed only six hits while striking out 10 with one walk.

With the score knotted at 0-0, pinch-hitter Hunter Kirkland stepped up to the plate with courtesy runner Brandon Augustine on second base. Augustine was running for Ryan Dupuis who led off the seventh with a single. Kirkland took the 1-2 pitch over the left field wall for a walk-off two-run homer to end the game while securing second-place for the Mustangs entering the playoffs.

Friendswood finishes 10-4 in district while Santa Fe (9-5) takes the No. 3 seed. The Indians fell to district champion  and No. 1 seed Goose Creek Memorial 4-1. Ball High and Dawson had to play a one-game play-in for the fourth and final berth entering the playoffs.

The Mustangs got eight hits in the game as Carson Kaufman smashed double while Lockhart, Carter Gwynne, Walker Williams, Drew Barba, Ryan Bertlsman, and Dupuis all stroked singles while the big hitter was Kirkland with the roundtripper.