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Sophomore's day

Posted: April 27, 2008 3:18 a.m.
Updated: June 28, 2008 5:02 a.m.

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It has been a season of streaks for The Master's College baseball team.

After a five-game losing streak, the Mustangs have run off five of their last six including a split of their season-ending home doubleheader Saturday.

Behind Joseph Zeller's pitching, TMC took the second game against Point Loma Nazarene at Reese Field 3-0, following a 5-2 loss in the morning.

The victory put TMC (30-18-1, 17-18) in a position to make the playoffs with a win on Tuesday.

"We figured that after the first game, we were like, 'Wow, we have to win that second game,'" said senior outfielder Steve Shaver. "But it wasn't like we were putting pressure on ourselves, we were just like, 'We need to win,' and with Joe Z on the mound we were confident."

In a season of inconsistent hitting, the one constant has been the pitching staff. With the second best ERA in the Golden State Athletic Conference, TMC has rarely been out of a game.

On senior day at Reese Field, it was the afternoon of a sophomore. Zeller knew it right away.

He sat down nine of the first 10 hitters.

His curveball had a sharp break and he was locating his fastball.

He threw his second shutout of the season and improved his record to 10-4, going seven innings while giving up four hits, walking two, and striking out six.

"I felt probably the best all year at the beginning so I knew I had my stuff," said Zeller as he received congratulations from The Master's president John MacArthur. "I just felt really relaxed for some reason. The fastball felt really good."

Mustangs coach Monte Brooks credited "timely hitting" to complement his stock of arms for the team's recent hot streak.

Shaver has had a lot to do with that. In addition to knocking in some insurance with an RBI single to right field in the bottom of the fifth that gave TMC a 3-0 lead, Shaver was instrumental in both wins against California Baptist on April 19, winning the first game with an RBI sacrifice fly and knocking in three runs in the nightcap.

"He's had a good week," Brooks said. "He had a great last Saturday, he drove in four runs in those two games and that additional run today was huge."

Playing what was most likely his last home game in a TMC uniform, Shaver had mixed emotions.

"It feels weird," he said. "Because I know that I'm not going to be back next year playing on this field, but then again I'm also kind of looking forward to what's in store."

Earlier in the fifth inning Saturday, TMC scored its first two runs on senior A.J. Morris' double to right center and a sacrifice fly by junior Joseph Chavarria. Freshman Jesse Gulley got on base in front of Morris and stole second to put himself in scoring position. That kind of manufacturing runs put Zeller more at ease on the mound.

"If we score enough runs, we're gonna win because our pitching has been solid all year," Zeller said.

Graham Miller started the first game for TMC but ran into problems in the sixth inning as the Mustangs fell. They'd get redemption in the second game allowing them to worry only about themselves come Tuesday at Concordia.

"Tuesday's it, it's do or die," Brooks said. "We win, we're in."

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