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TMC baseball: Motley crew of Mustangs

The Master's College hopes a diverse roster can propel the program to further success

Posted: February 22, 2010 9:19 p.m.
Updated: February 23, 2010 4:55 a.m.

TMC outfielder Pete Goeman chases down a ball at a practice earlier this season. The talented Goeman could get drafted by a Major League team this June.

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The 1993 Philadelphia Phillies.

That’s the team fleet-footed outfielder Pete Goeman compared the 2010 The Master’s College baseball team to.

There isn’t a chew-packing center fielder nicknamed “Nails” like Lenny Dykstra.

There’s no closer that’s so adventurous they call him “Wild Thing” like Mitch Williams.

No chubby, mulleted first baseman like John Kruk.

The Mustangs hope for one similarity, though — success.

Goeman’s comparison had more to do with the unique personalities on this The Master’s College team and the way the Mustangs play.

“We have a wide spectrum of athletes,” he said. “We run, bunt, hit for power. It’s so exciting to watch. We’re going to win games in different ways.”

But success comes down to two things, said head coach Monte Brooks — pitching and defense.

Brooks expects both to be strong areas for his team in 2010.

The Master’s has a good mix on the mound, led by the power arm of Joseph Zeller.

Zeller, a returning All-Golden State Athletic Conference performer, went 7-3 with a 3.55 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 114 innings last season.

TMC lost starter Tim Woodward (9-6, 3.31 ERA) to graduation, but Brooks anticipates Tyler Bersano, who won seven games last season, David Goodenough and sophomore Zack Johnson will fill the void.

Junior Trent Abbott, whose father Paul pitched in the Major Leagues, will close games for the Mustangs.

All five pitchers, Brooks said, will rely on their command to get batters out.

That spells a lot of balls in play, and Brooks said he understands that his defense will have to be strong in order for The Mustangs to keep up with some of the other top teams in the GSAC.

Brooks pointed to defending conference champion and national runner-up Point Loma Nazarene and California Baptist as favorites.

Point Loma came in ranked No. 2 in the NAIA’s preseason top 25 poll. Cal Baptist nearly cracked the top 25.

The Master’s College, meanwhile, didn’t rank in the top six of the GSAC in the NAIA’s preseason conference ratings.

Yet TMC has been on the upswing in the last couple of years.

TMC made the NAIA regional tournament in 2009 — the first time since 2004.

The improvement really started in 2008, as the Mustangs had a winning season after three straight sub-.500 years.

“We knew we were going to be good again (in 2009) so we met expectations last year,” Brooks said.

Brooks credits the team’s pitching depth and ability to stay healthy as reasons for the program’s most recent success.

Last season, TMC’s power at the plate was another reason for its success.

Eric Blackwell and Tyler Diamond, who combined for 29 home runs, are gone.

Caleb Mintz, who hit 11 homers, is the only player left from last season’s team with double-digit home run numbers.

But plate discipline, Brooks said, was an issue last season.

This offense is different.

Batters spray the ball and get on base more, which Brooks thinks may make for a better offense in 2010.

“We’re a more balanced club,” Brooks said. “We have a little of everything.”

It starts with Goeman, who the coach said should get drafted by a Major League team in June.

The outfielder batted .300 last year and stole 50 bases.

Zeller also provides punch at the plate, coming off a season in which he batted .371 with 57 RBIs.

But the team could suffer from a pair of injuries.

Sophomore catcher Bryan Lucas, a Hart High graduate, tore a thumb ligament during the season’s opening weekend and junior outfielder Jesse Gulley tore a ligament in his elbow the night prior to TMC’s first game.

Players are going to have to step up in their absence, and one definitely has.

Chris Talley has stepped in for Lucas at catcher and provided TMC with some early offensive punch.

In the team’s first seven games, he was 12-for-21 with two home runs and 13 RBIs.

Brooks said thus far the team has meshed well.

“This is a team I love,” Brooks said. “This is a very amalgamated team — very close knit.”

Like those Phillies, who made it to the World Series in 1993.

Now, if TMC can just have that kind of success.

Some are hopeful.

“Not only is this the most talented, it’s the greatest character team I’ve been on,” Goeman said.

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