SANTA CLARITA, Calif.—Generally when a team sends a pitcher to the mound who leads his respective conference in earned run average and strikeouts among other categories they feel pretty good about their chances to win. However, these great statistics have not translated into consistent wins for TMC ace Charlie Gillies this year as the senior’s GSAC-best ERA has turned into only seven wins in 12 starts.
Saturday was much the same for Gillies as he went seven innings allowing three runs (two earned) and striking out five. Gillies, who wasn’t as sharp as he has been in recent outings (four walks), battled all afternoon keeping the Mustangs in the game.
The Mustang offense couldn’t quite get over the hump putting up only two runs on eight hits. Both runs came in the sixth when Jon Popadics singled and promptly advanced to third when Concordia starter Jake Hovis threw the ball away trying to pick him off.
Tanner Leighton brought Popadics home with a double and then scored on a Spencer Downs' (Kelso, WA) rbi single, putting the Mustangs ahead 2-1 (Concordia’s run coming on a Ryan DiMascio home run to left center field in the fourth).
The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as the Eagles scrapped out two runs of their own in the top of the seventh. Concordia second baseman Spencer Ofelt singled home Kyle Konicek and Chris Kuber followed suit, bringing home Ofelt and putting the Eagles ahead for good, 3-2.
The Mustangs threatened in the bottom of the eighth as Steven Karkenny reached on an error and a Downs' fly ball was dropped by Concordia’s leftfielder. However, Karkenny was gunned down at home trying to score on the play and the inning fizzled out from there. TMC second baseman Sam Robison singled in the ninth, but the Mustangs couldn’t bring him around, falling 3-2 in game one.
The second game of Saturday’s doubleheader was dominated by spectacular pitching on the part of TMC as the Mustangs avoided a clean sweep with a 2-1 victory over the 12th-ranked Eagles. The win raised the No. 16 Mustangs' overall record to 31-18, while elevating their GSAC record to one game above .500 at 16-15.
A.J. Work (9-2), the Mustang starter in the nightcap, controlled the mound from the very beginning, giving up just six hits and one run en route to his second complete game of the season.
After battling through three scoreless innings, the Mustangs got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Chris Talley (Simi Valley, CA) belted his team-high tying seventh homer of the year, a solo shot over the left field fence for a 1-0 lead.
TMC’s bats wouldn’t quit there. The Mustangs' insurance run came later in the inning as Downs laced a single to keep the inning alive. Bryan Lucas (Santa Clarita, CA) followed with a double to center field, advancing Downs to third. Cody Harris (Lakewood, CA) then stepped to the plate and produced a clutch base hit, scoring Downs for a 2-0 lead.
Concordia’s biggest threat came in the top of the sixth inning when the Eagles recorded their first and only tally on the board with a base hit to right field by Konicek that plated Tony Harkey Jr., slicing the deficit to 2-1. However, that was all the Eagles could muster as sparkling pitching sealed the Mustang win, enabling TMC to salvage one win in the highly-anticipated GSAC series.
After a quick rest, the Mustangs will return to the diamond on Monday April 23, 2012 to finish a washed-out doubleheader against Vanguard (21-18, 11-16 GSAC). Game time is set for 3:00 PM in Costa Mesa.