MANTACHIE – The “Big Chief” had a nice shiner around his right eye. That didn’t stop the tall right-hander from shining on the mound on Friday night, though.
Collin Minga, who suffered a black eye while shagging balls during Thursday’s batting practice session, struck out eight while scattering five hits in leading his Mantachie High team to a 6-2 victory at home over East Webster in Game 1 of a MHSAA Class 2A quarterfinals series.
Matthew Prochaska (6-1) will take the rubber this afternoon in Houston – the temporary home of the Wolverines since their field was heavily damaged by a tornado last week – as the Mustangs will go for the sweep.
After Friday’s game, East Webster coach Wes Johnson said he didn’t know yet who was going to start Game 2 on the hill.
Going back to Minga, the Itawamba Community College Indians’ baseball signee – hence the nickname “Big Chief” – said his black eye didn’t really affect his pitching performance.
“Hitting, it was kind of harder to pick up the ball,” said the 6-foot-1 senior, who scored the Mustangs’ third run after reaching on a dropped fly ball deep in the outfield. “But it was fine.”
Pitching with the lead from the first inning on, Minga really seemed to find his groove during the final two at-bats of the third.
The righty (9-1) registered five consecutive strikeouts from the end of the third through the first batter of the fifth.
His team spotted him a four-run lead thanks to two errors by the Wolverines and Cole Stephens’ two-run homer to right.
“We gave them six outs in the first inning, and when you face a competitor like Minga there, he’s hard to beat,” said Johnson.
Ty Hendrix (9-3) settled down to strike out both Cody Chatham and Prochaska to end the first, and he would hold the Mustangs scoreless until the sixth, when C.J. Jackson and Alex Marlin came through with run-scoring singles.
“He was struggling with his breaking ball, but that was typical for Ty Hendrix. He does that consistently,” Johnson said of his pitcher’s early struggles, in particular hanging curveballs. “But he settled in and I thought he did a good job later in the ballgame.”
Codie Silver drove in the Wolverines’ first run with a base hit to left in the top of the second. East Webster would add another the following inning when Jamie McKee – who had two of his team’s five hits – trotted home from third on a third strike that got past catcher Shawn Thompson.
Even though Minga looked good on the mound, he had to work for just about every out as the Wolverines fouled off pitch after pitch. Not to mention, they left three runners in scoring position.
“They were really sticking the ball,” Minga said. “They did a good job of putting the bat on the ball, especially with two strikes. They did a good job of just shortening up and putting the bat on the ball.”
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal