Mustangs, American Pharoah Achieve Goals
It had been 37 years since the sport of kings had a Triple Crown winner and a quarter of a century since the West Orange-Stark Mustangs sent a baseball team to the state playoffs in Austin.
Lo and behold!! The first week of June 2015 supplied both amazing events as the Mustangs rallied from a 13-2 waxing by a good Huffman team Wednesday to come back the following night to sweep a doubleheader from the Falcons 3-1 and 6-0 to punch their ticket to the state tournament by winning the Region III championship.
And it took another superlative effort by American Pharoah to make a Triple Crown-winning trainer out of Bob Baffert on his fourth try at the Belmont and a Triple Crown-winning jockey out of Victor Espinoza on his third attempt. But racing history was made to the extreme delight of some 90,000 at the New York track Saturday.
But the majestic trip may be over for American Pharoah as his owner could very easily command $50-$100 million for future stud privileges and retire the three-year-old colt from the racing game to a life much easier and more enjoyable to him.
Saturday’s game plan of Baffert’s was to take the early lead and outrun the other seven horses, which worked like a charm. The race wasn’t even over yet and the crowd of 90,000 knew that the waiting for a Triple Crown winner was over.
American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes by 5½ lengths, becoming the first horse since 1978 to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness States and the Belmont Stakes—one of the sporting world’s rarest feats.
American Pharoah covered the grueling 1½ miles in 2:26.65– which was the sixth fastest time in Belmont history—and ran the final quarter-mile in 24.32 seconds, faster than secretariat’s time of 25 seconds in winning the 1973 Belmont.
The Mustangs (26-10) still have plenty of work ahead for them as they play Region IV champion El Campo (29-5) in the state semifinals 4 p.m. today (Wed.) at Disch-Faulk Field on the University of Texas campus in Austin. The winner of this game plays for the Class 4A state championship 6:30 p.m. Thursday, also at Disch-Faulk Field.
However, the Mustangs must change their playoff tactics for the UIL state tournament if they expect to become the state champions.
In all three rounds of the playoffs the ‘Stangs got drubbed in the opening game and then came back to win the doubleheader to get to the next round. WO-S had been outscored by their opponents in the three opening games by an unbelievable 24-2 margin.
The Mustangs did a great job of re-grouping and then played their best baseball to win the next two games of each series to keep their playoff hopes alive.
In each series, sophomore Jack Dallas was handed the ball by Head Coach Shea Landry for the crucial Game 3 and each time he came through with an exemplary mound performance.
And this is the same Jack Dallas who was expected to play quarterback on the Mustangs’ sophomore football team last fall and led WO-S to the state football championship game after being elevated to first string on the varsity early in the regular season last fall,
Several of the Mustangs baseball players are following family members who were successful high school baseball players.
Dallas’ dad Tony Dallas was a successful Mustang moundsman in his day while shortstop Payton Robertson is following in the footsteps of his dad Roderick Robertson who was a slick-fielding infielder for the Mustangs and his uncle Andre Robertson, who starred for the West Orange Chiefs, the Texas Longhorns and won a World Series ring with the New York Yankees.
There has been a long interim (25 years) since the West Orange-Stark Mustangs have earned their way to the UIL State Baseball Playoffs and I hope they realize the same success that American Pharoah had Saturday afternoon at the Belmont Stakes.
KWICKIES…Despite being without a couple of key players, the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied around LeBron James’ 13th career playoff triple-double to subdue the favored Golden State Warriors in overtime 95-93 Sunday to even the series at 1-1. LeBron finished the game with 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists to prevent a fourth-quarter collapse that led to their demise in Game One. The action moved to Cleveland last night (Tues.) where the Warriors still were favored, but by only one point.
Swedish golfer David Lingmerth outlasted Justin Rose with a par on the third playoff hole to win the PGA Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio that is hosted every year by Jack Nicklaus. It was the first PGA Tour victory for the 27 year-old, who will be going to the 2016 Masters for the first time. But he still will have to qualify Monday for next week’s U.S. Open. Lingmerth fired rounds of 67-65-71-69—273 to his bonanza payday of $1.116 million. Rose pocketed $669,600 for his runner-up money.
JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Astros are hoping to stop the bleeding from their season-longest four-game losing streak through Sunday’s weird loss at Toronto by elevating 20-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa to the major leagues somewhat prematurely to help get the Astros back to their winning ways and continue to dominate the American League West Division. Freaky fielding and base-running plays by shortstop Jonathan Villar prompted the move Sunday. Correa, who will be one of the youngest players in the major leagues, is ranked as the top prospect in baseball by ESPN.com and joined the Astros in Chicago Monday for the series against the White Sox exactly three years and four days after he was the first over-all pick in the 2012 draft out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy as a 17-year-old. Villar is expected to remain with the Astros as a “super-utility player.” The odd-man-out was right-handed reliever Jack Buchanan, who was optioned back to Class AAA Fresno to make room for Correa on the team’s 25-man roster.