When A Split Is Good
EL CAJON, Calif -- Another Saturday, another doubleheader for The Master’s College. While the opponent was different, the San Diego Christian Hawks, the games played out much the same way as last Saturday’s games in Fresno. Game one had all the makings of a pitcher’s duel as TMC ace Charlie Gillies took the hill opposite San Diego’s Adair Robles.
After three innings the game was knotted at one, San Diego’s run coming on a Victor Martinez seeing- eye single up the middle in the first, driving in Sean Sweeney and TMC’s on a Bryan Lucas double that brought Cody Harris home in the top of the second. The Mustangs jumped out to 4-1 lead in the top of the fourth as a pair of singles by Chris Talley and Harris (.310 BA, 2 HR, 20 RBI) were followed by a Lucas opposite-field home run that cleared the right centerfield fence. The homer was Lucas’ fifth of the year, and was just another example of the catcher’s offensive resurgence this season (.301 BA, 5 HR’s, 20 RBI). What’s he doing differently than last year? According to Lucas the difference has been between the ears, “…as far as this year I have changed my mental approach completely.” The junior catcher has also been very impressive behind the plate this season, making things easier on the pitching staff by blocking pitches in the dirt and throwing out runners on the basepaths.
The game would take an eerily familiar turn (to last Saturday’s game one) in the bottom of the sixth, as the Hawks sent eight men to the plate, scoring four of them to take the lead 5-4. Gillies, who had been able to keep San Diego at bay up until that point, would be replaced after the sixth inning by Zach Anderson. The seventh inning would not bode any better for Anderson as the Hawks scored four more runs, extending their lead to 9-4. That would be the final score as the Mustangs loaded the bases in the ninth but were unable to push across another run. Robles improved to 3-4 on the season with the win while Gillies (1.71 ERA, 60 K’s, 52.2 IP) dropped to 5-2. Jeremiah Graff pitched a scoreless eighth inning for TMC and Ryan Shackelford, Lucas, and Harris had two hits apiece.
The beauty of sweeping a team at home during the week in the GSAC is that even with a loss in the weekend’s first game a team can still take the series with a win in the finale. The strong character of this Mustang team was again demonstrated in the way it bounced back from a tough game one loss.
Mustang starting pitcher James Scott (4-1, 3.18 ERA, 34 K’s) turned in another solid performance, allowing only one earned run over seven innings of work while striking out five and walking only two. While Scott did his thing on the mound, offensively this game was all about big offensive innings for the Mustangs as they struck for five runs in the second and six more in the ninth on their way to an 11-1 victory.
In the second, the Mustangs did most of their damage with two outs. A Jon Popadics’ rbi single and a bases-loaded walk issued to Steven Karkenny had already plated two runs in the inning when, with the bases jammed, the Mustangs blew the game wide open on a Joe Riddle bases-clearing double (Karkenny was able to score from first as a result of the centerfielder misplaying the ball).
The Hawks’ lone run came in the fifth as Sean Sweeney drove in Dylan Jones with a double that landed just out of the reach of a fully-extended Tanner Leighton in center field. The score would remain 5-1 until the ninth inning when the Mustangs finally figured out Hawk reliever Calvin Chambers, scoring six runs (five off of Chambers) on six hits putting the game out of reach at 11-1. The inning was highlighted by a monstrous two-run home run by Karkenny (.362 BA, 11 2B’s, 2 HR’s, 24 RBI) and a two-run double to deep left by Ryan Shackelford. Tommie Kister and Tom Gilbertson each pitched a solid inning in relief of Scott who picked up the win.
The split moved the Mustangs’ record to 20-6 overall and 9-3 in conference play. Next up for the Mustangs is a four-game series with Azusa Pacific (18-5 overall, 7-1 in GSAC)starting next Thursday and Friday with single games (5:00pm starts) at Azusa before the clubs move to Reese Field next Saturday for another doubleheader that starts at 11:00am.
- As of March 9 the Mustangs led the NAIA in fielding percentage (.983).
- The Mustangs did not win their 20th game until April 9th last season.
- Bryan Lucas hit only one home run in 2009 & 2010 combined (he has five already this season).