Big Innings Go Both Ways, Produce Split
The Master's College used a trio of three-run innings to post a 13-8, first-game win but gave up a five-run frame in a 5-4 nightcap loss as the Mustangs and San Diego Christian split a doubleheader Monday afternoon in Lakeside.
The twinbill was a makeup of a February 26 rainout.
Splitting their fifth doubleheader of the season and with four games left in GSAC play, the Mustangs are now 15-17 (24-21 overall), 1½ games behind sixth-place Azusa Pacific.
In the opener, both clubs started fast, combining for 16 runs in the first four innings. The Mustangs drew first blood in their initial at-bat when Chris Talley whacked a three-run homer to left field, scoring Cody Harris and Spencer Downs in front of him. It was Talley's second long ball of the year.
But, the Hawks were quick to equal that, tallying three runs on five hits (all singles) in the bottom of the first off Mustang starter Charlie Gillies, who didn't help himself with two walks.
Back came the Mustangs in the second, using a Harris double and a bases-loaded walk to J.T. Adams to move ahead 5-3. They could have had a lot more but left the bases jammed.
After Gillies shut down the Hawks in the second, the Mustangs doubled their advantage in the top of the third, again with one swing of the bat. With two out, Bryan Lucas stepped to the plate and belted the ball over the left field fence for his third home run of the year.
However, that three-run lead didn't make it through the rest of the third as it evaporated in the midst of four hits and two crucial passed balls that led to four unearned runs and a 7-6 deficit.
But, the Mustangs recovered quickly, scoring for the fourth inning in a row with three tallies for a 9-7 lead. Downs had the big hit of the frame, lining a two-run double to left center field, plating Tanner Leighton and Harris, who had both walked to open things up. An out and a Talley single later, Downs scored from third base when Ben Ives' grounder to short was booted.
Armed with a two-run advantage, Gillies went to work in the middle innings, blanking the Hawks during that span while allowing two baserunners.
Following two scoreless frames, the Mustangs went back to work in the top of the seventh, padding the lead with their third three-run inning of the game. They got plenty of help, too, from the Hawks as all three runs scored with two outs. Harris doubled in Bryan Mitchell with the first tally, Harris scored on an error, and Downs, who reached on that Hawk miscue, crossed the plate on another San Diego Christian error.
Gillies went to the mound in the top of the seventh but after allowing a base hit and issuing a walk he was relieved by freshman Tommy Kister, who gave up a run-scoring double but nothing else in what turned into a stellar relief performance.
The righthander retired six batters in a row in one span and then stranded two Hawks in the bottom of the ninth to notch his first career save.
The Mustangs added the game's final run in the eighth when Ives lined a leadoff double down the left -field line, advanced to third base on a Lucas base hit, and scored on Mitchell's sacrifice bunt.
Harris paced the Mustangs' 13-hit attack with three hits while Downs, Talley, Lucas, and Mitchell had two apiece.
Gillies improved to 6-5 despite giving up nine hits, eight runs (three earned), and six walks in six innings of work.
The nightcap featured much less scoring and an ongoing struggle for Mustang starter Tyler Bersano (4-7) who dropped his third consecutive decision. The senior righthander went five innings and gave up all five Hawk runs.
All of those runs came in the third inning when the Hawks erased a two-run deficit and went ahead for good.
The first of those two Mustang runs came in the top of the first when Leighton drew a leadoff walk, swiped second base, moved to third on a Harris sacrifice bunt, and raced home on a wild pitch.
Two innings later, they went up 2-0 when Downs stroked a one-out single to right field and scored on Talley's double down the left field line.
However, the Hawks came up in the bottom of the third and when they were finished the Mustangs trailed 5-2. The Hawks got it done with four hits, including a key two-run double.
The Mustangs retaliated in the top of the fourth, pulling to within one run on a Leighton run-scoring triple and a Harris run-producing groundout but they got nothing else the rest of the way. They stranded a pair of runners in the fifth but went quietly in the final two frames of the seven-inning nightcap.
After producing five hitters with two or more hits in the opener, the Mustangs had only one in the second game with Leighton rapping out two.
Taking a quick break from GSAC play, the Mustangs play a single game at Cal State San Marcos on Tuesday before taking the Easter weekend off.