Awaiting Stephenville (22-15-1) in the regional semifinals is an Andrews club (23-15) with six regulars batting above .300 and two proven pitchers having worked at least 60 innings.
The teams meet at 7 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday at McMurry University’s Walt Diggers Field in Abilene. Game three, if needed, will follow game two.
The Mustangs went through Borger, Presidio and Sweetwater to reach the regional semifinals. They overwhelmed Borger from the plate for wins of 10-5 and 16-10 in bi-district, then went the distance in an area-round series against Presidio, winning games one and three 6-3 and dropping game two 2-0. Both games with Sweetwater were tightly contested in the regional quarterfinals last weekend, with Andrews winning 4-3 in game one and 7-6 in eight innings in game two.
Leading the Mustang pitching staff is Christian Marquez (10-3), who over 80.2 innings of work has 112 strikeouts and only 29 walks. He has an earned run average of 2.08, but has been hurt by unearned runs surrendered by the Andrews defense. He has allowed just 24 earned runs, but 45 total.
Behind Marquez, Andrews figures to start Micah Brown (5-6) in one of the series’ first two games. Brown has a 4.55 earned run average, surrendering 39 earned runs and 53 total. Other pitching arms for the Mustangs include Clay Walker, who has a 6.91 ERA over 27.1 innings, Garrett Bawcom, who sports a 6.18 ERA in 17 innings and Bryan Ramon, who has worked 15 innings with an 8.40 ERA. No other Andrews pitcher has worked more than 13 innings on the hill.
Marquez also leads Andrews from the plate, where he’s hitting .393 with 5 home runs and 33 runs batted in. He gets plenty of help from the likes of Austin Luna, a .388 hitter with a team-best 38 runs scored, and Jeremy Boone, a .358 hitter with two home runs and 20 RBIs. Ryan Peralta hits .327 and has driven in 25 runs.
Andrews is in the regional semifinals for the third straight year, while Stephenville reached the regional quarterfinals in two of its last three seasons in 4A before making the move to 3A this year. Andrews reached the regional final last spring before being swept in two games by state finalist West.