The best place to be on a blazing hot day is in the shade.
That’s where Needles pitcher Matt McAndrews spent his Saturday morning as he watched Whittell and The Meadows battling it out in a scorching losers’ bracket final.
Whittell advanced to the finals by winning the slugfest, but any glory was short-lived. McAndrews casually strolled onto the baseball field and tossed a two-hit gem to help the Mustangs roll past the Warriors 12-2 in five innings to win the Class 2A state championship at Mountain View Christian.
It was the second consecutive state title for Needles.
“I really didn’t feel any adrenaline until the last inning,” said McAndrews, a freshman. “For the first four innings, I was fine.”
Indeed, McAndrews dominated the first four innings, striking out 10 to silence the Warriors.
His teammates, meanwhile, sent a message right off the bat. Leadoff hitter Stevie Kidd blasted a home run over the left-center-field fence to open the game, and the Mustangs quickly collected four more hits to take a 5-0 first-inning lead.
Any doubt about the outcome was put to rest in the bottom of the fourth, when Needles posted six more runs in an inning capped by Bobby Stahel’s towering two-run homer to left field.
Warriors’ coach Ken Parker said he was not particularly surprised by the game’s lopsided result.
“The way we ended our season on a high note, we were ready,” the coach said. “We came to play. We worked hard this season. We set goals and we stayed focused on those goals.”
McAndrews struggled to find the strike zone in the fifth. He allowed two runs on a hit and four walks in the inning but still managed to post two more strikeouts to close it out.
“Everybody did what they needed to do,” McAndrews said. “We had good team defense and great hitting.”
Kidd, Stahel and Darra Russell each had two hits to lead the Mustangs, who finished with nine hits on the day.
Whittell 15, The Meadows 6 — The Warriors compiled 15 hits to cruise past the Mustangs to move into the title game.
Whittell scored five runs in the first inning and added five more in the fourth to secure the win.
Brian Fahey went 3-for-4 for The Meadows, which was eliminated.
Needles 12, Lincoln County 2 — Lexi Baldwin tossed a four-hitter to help the Mustangs roll to their third consecutive state crown with a six-inning win in the Class 2A softball championship game.
Baldwin, a senior, also went 4-for-5 with an RBI.
“She’s a four-year starter,” said Mustangs’ assistant coach Sandy Chandler. “She’s played like that for four years. How she’s going is how we go.”
Needles, which rested as Lincoln County defeated Pershing County 3-2 in the morning’s losers’ bracket semifinal, sent a message by scoring four runs in the first inning.
The Mustangs took an 8-2 lead into the fifth and scored three more before sending Baldwin to the plate with the bases loaded. The senior made the most of her final at-bat, driving a sharp grounder up the middle to help her team win it on the 10-run rule.
Alex Chandler went 3-for-4 with four RBIs to help Needles.