Bersano, Gillies Love Twinbills
Tyler Bersano and Charlie Gillies are developing into a formidable duo in doubleheaders. The TMC hurlers teamed up once again on Thursday, pitching the Mustangs past San Diego Christian, 7-4 and 4-2, on a cold, windy morning/afternoon in Placerita Canyon.
The Mustang sweep, their fourth of the season, christened GSAC play and gave them a four-game winning streak. The club is now 11-4 overall and, of course, 2-0 in conference.
Bersano and Gillies, who gained their third wins of the season in much different fashion, have earned two of those victories apiece in twinbills.
In the opener, Bersano went the distance for the second time in 2011 but he needed plenty of help from his teammates to improve to 3-1. He worked effortlessly through the first two frames but gave up a run in each of the next two frames on a total of six hits.
The Hawks' third-inning run knotted the score after the Mustangs tallied the game's first run in the bottom of the second when Ben Ives stroked a lead-off single to left field, stole second, advanced to third on an error by SDCC pitcher Adair Robles, and raced home on first baseman Nick Bando's miscue.
After the Hawks regained the lead in the top of the fourth, the Mustangs came right back in the bottom of the inning. Parlaying a walk, a single, and a triple into two runs, the Mustangs leapt ahead 3-2. J. T. Adams led off the inning with a walk and moved up 90 feet on Joe Riddle's single to center field. One out later, both runners advanced on a Robles wild pitch and scored soon thereafter on Bryan Lucas' triple over the head of centerfielder Taylor Maddox.
Armed with a one-run lead, Bersano did what most aces are supposed to do, he retired the Hawks in order in both of the fifth and sixth innings, respectively. He, eventually, retired eight in a row before the visitors made some noise in the seventh. With one out, Maddox hit a Bersano offering down the left field line for a triple and scored the tying run moments later on a sacrifice fly.
Then, in the top of the eighth the Hawks reclaimed the lead (4-3) by turning two singles and a fielder's choice into the go-ahead run.
Meanwhile, Robles blanked the Mustangs from the fifth through the seventh frames although the Mustangs had a hit in each of those innings. But, in the eighth they pieced together their best inning of the afternoon, scoring four runs on five hits to vault ahead 7-4.
Jared Otto's single to left field brought home Bryan Mitchell, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning, with the tying run. Then, with the bases loaded, Adams reached on an infield single, plating Tanner Leighton with the go-ahead run. The final two runs of the inning came on sacrifice flies from Riddle and Ives.
Bersano went back out for the ninth and locked up the win, allowing only a one-out single before inducing a game-ending double play, the Mustangs' third of the game.
Five players (Leighton, Otto, Chris Talley, Lucas, and Parker Price) had two hits apiece to key the club's 13-hit assault.
Bersano wound up allowing 11 hits but he didn't walk anyone and struck out five Hawks.
His gutsy performance was followed by another strong one from Gillies, who bounced back after getting beat up by British Columbia in his previous start. The junior righthander tossed six innings of three-hit ball, striking out six, and allowing no earned runs. His 1.78 ERA leads all Mustang starters.
He blanked the Hawks through the first three innings but he made it hard on himself, stranding two runners in the first and two more in the third.
On the other hand, the Mustasngs took advantage of opportunities in the second and third innings to move ahead 3-0. In the second, the Mustangs struck with one swing of the bat when J. T. Adams belted a leadoff home run to right field, his club-high fourth of the year.
An inning later, the long ball played the primary role in two more runs. With one out, Parker Price singled down the left field line and scored ahead of Leighton's roundtripper to right field, his second of the season.
Although those three runs would make Gillies a winner, there was plenty of game left for the righthander and the Mustangs.
In the top of the fourth, the Hawks broke through against Gillies but it took a passed ball and an unearned run to do so. He walked one in a scoreless fifth and then went out in style in the sixth, whiffing two Hawks in a 1-2-3 frame.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Mustangs tacked on their final run of the day when Otto stroked a leadoff single through the right side, raced to third one out later on Adams' base hit to center field, and scored on Riddle's second sacrifice fly of the afternoon.
Gillies turned the ball over to James Scott in the seventh inning and the freshman reliever took it from there, hurling the final three innings to wrap up the win. He gave up only one hit along the way, a one-out homer in the eighth, and earned his second save of the season with an impressive ninth, striking out the side.
The Mustangs rapped out eight hits in the nightcap, two of those by Adams.
Following a day off, the two clubs play another doubleheader on Saturday, this one on the Hawks' home field in Santee.