By Mason Nesbitt, For TMC Sports Information

March 27, 2014

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- The Master’s College baseball team’s schedule has presented it with unique challenges on consecutive weekends.

It had to deal with San Diego Christian’s high-powered offense last weekend, and their opponent this weekend, Concordia University-Irvine, is to pitching what San Diego is to hitting.

“Concordia flat out pitches,” said TMC head coach Monte Brooks. “They’re in every game.”

The Mustangs (26-8 overall, 16-8 in GSAC) will try to neutralize Concordia’s arms better than they did San Diego’s bats in losing two out of three games last weekend.

Concordia, who has climbed into a virtual tie with San Diego and TMC for first place in the GSAC, has a team ERA of 2.39—best in the GSAC. All three of its starting pitchers have ERAs under 2.70.

On offense the Eagles (27-9, 14-7) play small ball, bunting and stealing their way into scoring position. They have only five team home runs.

“They’re pests on offense,” said Brooks of Concordia, “They compete at the plate and try to put the ball in play.

“We have to pitch well, throw strikes and avoid the big inning.”

The Mustangs couldn’t avoid the big inning last weekend, allowing five innings of at least two runs to San Diego in three games.  And TMC’s starting rotation specifically has struggled lately: they’ve posted a 5.35 ERA in TMC’s last nine games.

“Guys like me have been struggling a little bit. (We) got to step it up and compete pitch-for-pitch,” said TMC pitcher Tommy Kister.

A guy who hasn’t struggled is Tucker Richardson, who had missed three starts with a sore arm before throwing five scoreless innings for TMC against San Diego last weekend.

Richardson is 6-1 with a 1.63 ERA.

TMC’s Joe Riddle went 5-for-7 at the plate with a home run and two RBIs last weekend, and third baseman Ryan Shackelford was 4-for-12 and played well defensively.

Brooks hopes Riddle will carry over that offensive surge into a crucial series with Concordia, which has won nine of their last ten games. .

What does Brooks want to be able to say about the Mustangs, who’ve lost five of nine, Saturday Night when the series is over?

“That we concentrated and we relaxed,” Brooks said. “(The guys) know how good Concordia is; they know we have to have high intensity.

“When we’re relaxed we play our best.”