Fueled by superb pitching and timely hitting, The Master’s College took two from Patten University Saturday afternoon on Reese Field, blanking the Lions 2-0 in the opener and then completing the sweep with a 5-2 decision in the nightcap.
The Mustangs’ second sweep of the season extended their winning streak to seven games and improved their record to 8-2.
Working in conditions not normally conducive to good pitching, Charlie Gillies (2-1) shrugged off the cool, rainy weather and spun a complete-game two-hitter in the opener. Striking out a career-high 13, the senior righthander retired the Lions in order five times, highlighted by a dominant fifth inning in which he struck out the side.
He got all the run support he needed in the fourth inning when the Mustangs used some small ball and a big hit to manufacture the game’s only runs.
Leading off the frame, Tanner Leighton reached on a bunt base hit and moved to second when Steven Karkenny coaxed a walk from Lion starter Jesse Madrid. Spencer Downs advanced both runners 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt and Chris Talley drove them home with a single up the middle.
That proved to be just enough as the Mustangs managed just five hits off Madrid. They had a chance to add to their lead in the seventh inning but left two runners on base. Senior catcher Bryan Lucas led the club with two hits.
Although the nightcap featured more offense, it was still pitching that was the feature attraction. The leading man was James Scott who has strung together two consecutive strong performances after a rocky first outing in late January. Surrendering two runs on seven hits over six innings, the sophomore righthander whiffed seven Lions and raised his record to 2-0.
He gave up single runs in the second and fourth innings, respectively, and those only tied the score since his teammates had given him runs to work with.
Using some of the small ball strategy that led to the first-game win, the Mustangs went up 1-0 in their initial at-bat when freshman Jonathan Popadics led off with an infield single, stole second base, and scored on Steven Karkenny’s double to left field.
After the Lions knotted the game in the second inning on a hit batsman, a stolen base, and a single, the Mustangs regained the lead in the third when Karkenny produced a clutch hit.
With two outs, Tanner Leighton walked and raced to second base on a wild pitch. Karkenny, living up to preseason expectations, promptly whacked a base hit to left field, plating Leighton and giving the Mustangs a 2-1 advantage.
But, that smallest of margins was erased in the top of the fourth when the Lions produced a big, two-out hit of their own to tie the game once again.
PHOTO COURTESY OF OF TONY BERRU
Following a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth and surviving a two-on situation in the top of the fifth, the Mustangs finally created some distance between themselves and the Lions in the last of the fifth.
It started with a leadoff home run off the bat of sophomore third baseman Cody Harris. The shot over the fence in left field was his first roundtripper of the year and put the Mustangs ahead to stay. They added another run in the frame when Ryan Shackelford reached on an error by the Lion shortstop and eventually scored on a Spencer Downs’ sacrifice fly to center field.
Displaying what it takes to be a front-line pitcher, Scott took that 4-2 lead and shut down the Lions in the top of the sixth, retiring them in order for the first time in the game.
In their final at-bat of the afternoon, the Mustangs tacked on one more run in the bottom of the sixth inning with another two-out rally. Harris walked to extend the inning and with Sam Robison pinch running, Chris Talley came off the bench and slammed a double down the right field line, plating Robison with the game’s final tally.
Scott, who tossed a complete-game shutoutout in his previous start, wasn’t allowed to finish this one but reliever Zack Anderson made that look like a good decision when he retired the Lions in order in the top of the seventh, finishing off the sweep.
Held to 11 hits in the twinbill, the Mustangs managed just six in the nightcap and Karkenny was the only Mustang with two hits.
In a season featuring 20 doubleheaders, the Mustangs play two more this coming week when they travel to the Bay Area to face Menlo for twinbills on Friday and Saturday.