SAN ANGELO, TX — The No. 8 McLennan Highlanders ended their season tonight as the Region V Runner-up after falling to the No. 20 New Mexico Thunderbirds 14-11 in the tournament championship.
McLennan struck first, scoring a run in the bottom of the first. Jordan Yeatts walked, moved to second on a passed ball and stole third. Cole Moore walked and Yeatts scored on a fielder’s choice by Garrett Martin.
New Mexico took the lead with two runs in the top of the second as Zac Vooletich singled and scored on an Angel DeLaCruz home run.
The Highlanders tied the game with Brooks Embry’s solo home run in the bottom of the second.
The Thunderbirds scored four in the third to take control of the game. Carlos Contreras walked, and Daniel Hernandez and Vooletich both singled, loading the bases. Adrian Torres followed with a single to score Contreras and Hernandez. Vooletich then scored on a Highlander error. DeLaCruz walked and Ramirez was safe on a fielder’s choice, reloading the bases. Joaquin Ballasteros then singled to score Torres.
New Mexico scored two more runs in the fourth. Hernandez singled but was out on a fielder’s choice by Vooletich. Torres walked and DeLaCruz was given an intentional walk to load the bases. Ramirez followed with a double to score Vooletich and Torres.
McLennan added a run in the fourth as Aidan Shepardson doubled and scored on a single by Brett Squires.
The Thunderbirds added two more runs in the fifth. Joab Gonzalez singled and scored on a triple by Contreras. Contreras then scored on a single by Hernandez.
The Highlanders pulled within four, 10-6, with three runs in the sixth. Moore and Martin both walked. Shepardson followed with a fielder’s choice, putting Martin out at second. Squires followed with a three-run homer.
New Mexico responded with three runs in the top of the seventh. Rody Barker was hit by the pitch and Contreras singled. A fielder’s choice by Hernandez put Contreras out at second. Vooletich walked to load the bases. Torres followed with single to score Barker and Hernandez. Vooletich then scored on a ground out by DeLaCruz.
McLennan didn’t give up and mounted a comeback in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs recorded, the Highlanders loaded the bases. Shepardson singled, Squires was hit by the pitch and Embry was safe on a fielder’s choice. Shepardson scored on a wild pitch and Vince Ippoliti followed with a three-run homer. Yeatts followed that with a solo home run, making the score 13-11.
DeLaCruz tacked on a solo home run in the top of the ninth to put New Mexico up by three, 14-11.
The Highlanders couldn’t get anything going in the bottom of the ninth. McLennan ends the season with an overall record of 42-17 and as the second-place squad in Region V.
The Highlanders punched their ticket to the championship round with a 5-4 walk-off victory over the Odessa Wranglers earlier in the afternoon. Rene Ramos got the win on the mound.
The Highlanders began the scoring with a run in the bottom of the second as Martin walked, advanced around to third on a single by Shepardson and scored on a single by Jaylen Williams.
Odessa tied the game with a run in the third. Tyler Latham reached first and moved to second on a McLennan error. A sacrifice bunt by Kyler Castillo put Latham on third. T.J. Tomlinson then singled to score Latham.
McLennan took the lead with a run in the bottom of the third as Yeatts doubled, moved to third on a sacrifice fly by Battles and scored on a triple by Moore.
The Highlanders added a run with Shepardson’s solo home run in the fourth.
The Wranglers took the lead with three runs in the fifth. Castillo and Tomlinson both singled. Harry Fullerton followed with a three-run homer.
McLennan tied the game with a run in the eighth. Ippoliti doubled and moved to third on a passed ball. Yeatts drew a walk, and Battles singled to score Ippoliti.
The Highlanders sealed the win with a run in the bottom of the ninth. Shepardson led off with a single. Embry and Ippoliti were both given intentional walks, loading the bases. Battles followed with a single to score Shepardson and give McLennan the walk-off win.
New Mexico 14, McLennan 11
New Mexico 024 220 301 – 14 16 0
McLennan 110 103 050 – 11 9 1
Pablo Suarez, Tristan Stivors (6) and Rody Barker. Payton Strambler, Trevor Munsch (3), Andrew Cossio (3), Jack Driskell (6), Brant Bennett (9) and Ryan Bishop, Vince Ippoliti (6). WP: Suarez; LP: Strambler; SV: Stivors. Leading hitters – New Mexico: Carlos Contreras (3-4, 3B, RBI), Daniel Hernandez (3-6, RBI), Adrian Torres (3-5, 2B, 4 RBI), Angel DeLaCruz (2-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI), Junior Ramirez (1-6, 2B, 2 RBI) and Joaquin Ballasteros (1-3, RBI); McLennan: Jordan Yeatts (1-4, HR, RBI), Garrett Martin (0-4, RBI), Aidan Shepardson (2-5, 2B), Brett Squires (2-3, HR, 4 RBI), Brooks Embry (2-4, HR, RBI) and Vince Ippoliti (1-3, HR, 3 RBI). Record: McLennan 42-17 (24-8).
McLennan 5, Odessa 4
Odessa 001 030 000 – 4 12 1
McLennan 011 100 011 – 5 10 3
Nick Ellis, Jorge Trevino (4), Noah Brown (8) and Gullio Moncello. Mason Hilton, Rene Ramos (8) and Vince Ippoliti. WP: Ramos; LP: Brown. Leading hitters – Odessa: Kyler Castillo (2-4, 2B), T.J. Tomlinson (4-5, RBI), Harry Fullerton (1-4, HR, 3 RBI) and Gullio Moncello (2-4); McLennan: Jordan Yeatts (1-4, 2B), Jalen Battles (2-3, 2 RBI), Cole Moore (1-4, 3B, RBI), Aidan Shepardson (3-4, HR, RBI), Jaylen Williams (1-5, RBI), Brooks Embry (1-3, 2B) and Vince Ippoliti (1-3, 2B). Record: McLennan 42-16 (24-8).