ARGYLE — As the wind picked up and the temperature dipped in Argyle, Sanger head coach Steve Ford and Argyle head coach Ricky Griffin seemed to be more concerned with the pitching than the final score.
With both teams approaching the start of district play, the two coaches were wondering what their respective pitchers could do in Tuesday night’s nondistrict game.
Griffin’s pitcher did just a little more than Ford’s.
Argyle senior Parker Mushinski battled out of some trouble early in the contest and did enough to help Argyle pick up an 8-3 victory at home over its former district rival.
Historically, Griffin said, Argyle’s pitching staff has been able to consistently throw strikes, something this year’s team has struggled with. Against Sanger (10-6-1), Mushinski hit enough of the plate to help the Eagles pick up the win.
“He knows this, just like all our other pitchers — we’re not going to be successful no matter how hard we throw,” Griffin said. “We’ve got to throw strikes, and he did a pretty good job of that tonight. He threw enough strikes to keep them off the board.”
Mushinski, who has signed with Texas Tech, found himself in trouble in the top of the first inning. Anthony Escobedo singled off the left-handed pitcher and later scored while Argyle was preoccupied with a rundown between first base and second base.
But Mushinski got out of the inning with just one run after the hit and two walks. It was Mushinski’s only earned run of the game.
Griffin allowed Mushinski to throw 80 pitches in four innings of work, just to stretch him out a little bit. But otherwise, Griffin prefers his pitchers to keep their pitch counts down.
“The pitch count, that’s something we talk about all the time,” Griffin said. “We want the pitch count down, but if they’re not throwing strikes early in the count, then we’re not getting early contact.”
After leaving the mound, Mushinski moved to first base.
Over by the dugout on the third base side, Ford was evaluating senior pitcher Garrett McLeod. McLeod struggled in the first inning. Argyle (13-7) sent eight batters to the plate and got two runs out of it.
McLeod left in the fourth inning after hitting Mushinski with a pitch, and he was relieved by Casey Sykes. Ford said he was looking at McLeod being the team’s No. 2 starter in the rotation, and he sent McLeod out to the mound to see what he could accomplish against a strong team.
“He struggled in the first inning with nerves, but then he settled down a little bit,” Ford said. “He threw a lot of pitches in the first inning, but after that he was fine.”
Sykes gave up a three-run home run to Ryley Balch in a four-run fourth inning that gave the Eagles plenty of cushion in the contest.
Sanger catcher Austen Lange crushed a two-run home run in the sixth.
Back by the dugout on the first base side, Griffin knows his team will have to eliminate unnecessary trouble as district play begins Friday.
“We’re constantly pitching out of trouble, and you can’t do that consistently and continue to win,” Griffin said.
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter @Ben_Baby.
Argyle 8, Sanger 3
WP — Parker Mushinski (2-1). LP — Garrett McLeod (2-1). 2B — A: Tyler Gibson, Cutter McDonald. HR — S: Austen Lange. A: Ryley Balch. Records — Sanger (10-6-1), Argyle (13-7).