April 14th, 2012
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- They say that pitching and defense wins baseball games, and that if a team pitches well and makes plays in the field they will usually be successful. In the case of the 2012 Mustangs that has certainly proven true. The #19 ranked Mustangs are 29-15 thanks in large part to their NAIA leading .979 fielding percentage and their GSAC leading 3.30 earned run average.
The Mustang staff is led by senior right hander Charlie Gillies who leads the NAIA in strikeouts with 102 and leads the GSAC with an ERA of 1.91. The pitcher with the second lowest ERA in the GSAC is also a Mustang namely A.J. Work. Gillies and Work have seven wins a piece on the season. Tommie Kister has been key out of the pen for TMC throwing 32.0 innings with an ERA of 3.09 and three saves.
Defensively the Mustangs are strong at nearly every position. Bryan Lucas has provided great defense and leadership behind the plate keeping runners from being able to advance on balls in the dirt or on steals. The infield has been rock solid with Cody Harris playing the hot corner and making only two errors thus far and freshman Jon Popadics rounding out the left side at shortstop with a fielding percentage of .973. In the outfield senior Tanner Leighton and freshman Steven Karkenny have made a number of diving catches and plays at the wall.
With only eight games left in the regular season the Mustangs find themselves in excellent position to not only reach the GSAC tournament but also the NAIA tournament. A four game series against #11 Concordia this week will be a tall task, but with strong pitching and defense the Mustangs will look to climb the GSAC standings and NAIA rankings.