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The Master's College baseball: On the skids

TMC has lost 11 of its last 14 games

Posted: March 25, 2010 10:17 p.m.
Updated: March 26, 2010 4:55 a.m.

The Master's College's Steven Vranau heads for third base on Thursday at Reese Field.

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Facing the top team in the Golden State Athletic Conference, the last thing The Master’s College baseball team wanted was to play from behind.

Given the fact that California Baptist’s pitching staff ranks among the top in the conference, any advantage could prove devastating.

Still, the Lancers jumped on Mustangs starting pitcher Joe Zeller early and held off a late rally to beat TMC 11-4 on Thursday at Reese Field.

The loss marks the Mustangs’ 11th in their last 14 games and the second straight in a four-game series with Cal Baptist (26-7, 15-3).

The Lancers’ team ERA ranked second in the GSAC at 2.96 through 270 2/3 innings pitched coming into Thursday’s game.

“We just need to play smarter and make the plays,” said TMC head coach Monte Brooks of his team’s recent play.

In the bottom half of the seventh inning, that’s exactly what appeared to be happening.

Trailing 6-0, the Mustangs (12-16, 6-12) got a pair of runs, sparked by Zeller’s leadoff double.

Two batters later, junior first baseman Jared Otto drove home pinch runner Shane Murphy, who was in for Zeller, on a fielder’s choice to first.

TMC junior right fielder Steven Vranau in turn plated Caleb Mintz, who reached on a walk, with an RBI double, making the score 6-2.

Vranau wasn’t done there.

After Cal Baptist tallied three more runs in the top of the eighth, Vranau responded in the bottom half of the frame with a two-RBI double that scored Zeller and Mintz, cutting the lead to 9-4.

“We just don’t give up,” Vranau said. “You know, with these aluminum bats, the score can change quickly.”

Vranau finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Mintz was 1-for-3 with two runs and Zeller batted 2-for-4 with a run.

Zeller also pitched seven innings with six earned runs off 10 hits and 13 strikeouts, including the first two batters of the game.

But slowly, Zeller’s pitches made their way up in the strike zone and the Lancers capitalized.

“He lives low and they can’t touch him,” Brooks said. “He had 13 strikeouts and one walk, but he started to get the ball up. I think defensively, we could have caught a couple balls.”

Cal Baptist opened a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning after an RBI double by Sharif Othman was immediately followed by a two-run home run by designated hitter Kody Sepulveda.

The Lancers tacked on a fourth run in the top of the third, giving starting pitcher Drew Madrigal plenty of room to work.

Madrigal responded with six strikeouts over eight innings, while giving up four earned runs on seven hits and four walks.

“It allows you to take a breath,” said Cal Baptist head coach Gary Adcock of the early lead, who was admittedly weary of Zeller’s potential to shut his team down.

Sepulveda finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored, while Othman was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and one run. Teammate Zach Hedges was 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

The Lancers added two more runs in the top off the ninth off TMC reliever A.J. Work, which ensured the game was out of reach for the Mustangs as closer Mike Barrow took the mound for a 1-2-3 bottom half of the frame.

TMC center fielder Pete Goeman was 2-for-4 and Otto was 0-for-2 with an RBI.

“Coming into the week, (we thought) one win is a good result on the road,” Adcock said. “They are a quality club that has given us fits over the years.”

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