Northeast Tarrant

Mustangs fighting for spot in the playoffs

Everything is different about Grapevine’s 2014 baseball season. Tim McCune retired in December as the program’s head coach after 22 seasons.

Interim head coach Jeff Harp knows this is probably a season-long audition to determine if he will get to keep the job on a full-time basis. The GCISD has already posted the position.

It’s definitely not what people in Grapevine are accustomed to watching. But the game goes on. The Mustangs (12-12, 4-4 in District 6-5A) are doing everything they can to stay in the playoff race.

Following an important 4-2 victory at Hurst L.D. Bell this past Friday, the Mustangs moved to within one game of fourth place. With the second half of the district season underway, Colleyville Heritage set the pace at 7-1, Euless Trinity and Irving Nimitz were 6-2 and L.D. Bell was 5-3.

So the win over Bell created a two-game swing. Instead of being three games behind with six games to play, Grapevine is very much alive. But this is also a very big week for the Mustangs. They played host to Colleyville Heritage on Tuesday and play host to Irving on Friday.

“We have great kids who are working very hard for us,” Harp said. “I just told them after the Bell game that we’re 1-0 this half of the district and if we win out, there’s a pretty good chance we’re getting into the playoffs.”

The Mustangs have reached this mark despite not being efficient in really any area. While the team ERA is pretty solid at 2.93, the staff has been prone to giving away base runners. In 155 innings, Grapevine pitchers have walked 107 and hit 19 other batters. That hurts. Plus, this defense has committed 42 errors. Those have led to 39 unearned runs.

Harp has not settled on a Tuesday-Friday rotation. He’s used senior left-handers Cooper Hess, Chris Lacy and Grant McClelland and junior right-hander Nick Evart. Hess and McClelland were mainstays to the 2013 Region I quarterfinalist team but have not been as consistent.

So while it has been a season filled with ups and downs, the Mustangs are still breathing.

“Everybody has handled the season very well,” Harp said. “We just have to keep fighting. That’s why I like these kids because they are going to compete for every inning and every at bat.”

Offensively minded

Harp has tried different combinations to get the offense going but hasn’t found the success he wants. The team batting average is only .271 and hit only three home runs. To be sure this group has to manufacture runs.

Grapevine’s two most consistent bats have been senior shortstop David Fry, who has signed with Northwestern State (La.), and sophomore left fielder Kyle Flamm. At the beginning of the year, Harp kept Flamm at the bottom of the order because he wanted to gradually work his way into the varsity game. Now, Harp moved Flamm into the No. 2 spot because he needs that part of the lineup to get runners on base. He’s hitting. 410. Fry has been consistent and usually hit third. He’s hitting .384.

Colleyville Heritage update

Next week, we’ll focus on Colleyville Heritage. The Panthers (14-11, 7-1 in 6-5A) lead the district race. The Panthers played at Grapevine on Tuesday and play at Irving MacArthur on Friday. They entered the week on a seven-game winning streak.

Coach Alan McDougal basically reconfigured this roster but has settled on his Tuesday-Friday rotation with freshman right-hander Alex Scherff (3-0) and junior right-hander Mitch Stark (3-1). Scherff’s older brother Chris, a junior, has led the lineup batting about .450.