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College baseball: Momentum held intact

TMC’s strong start to season continues with sweep

Posted: February 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

After finishing up a promising non-conference portion of the season, The Master’s College baseball is carrying the momentum into Golden State Athletic Conference play.

Strong pitching coupled with some late, clutch hitting helped TMC sweep Point Loma Nazarene University in a doubleheader on Saturday at Reese Field.

The Mustangs won 3-1 in the early game and 6-4 in the second game to cap off a four-game series between the two teams that began with a doubleheader on Thursday in San Diego.

TMC won three of the four to take the series.

“It was encouraging because they were all close games and we hung in there and found a way,” said TMC head coach Monte Brooks of the conference-opening series.

On Saturday, TMC (14-4, 3-1) won the first game with a stellar performance from starting pitcher Charlie Gillies.

The senior right-hander pitched a complete game, three-hitter, allowing just one run while striking out eight.

Neither team could get much going offensively until the bottom of the seventh inning, when Mustangs shortstop Jonathan Popadics broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI double that scored Caleb Halvorson.

TMC added another run in the eighth to set the final at 3-1.

“I thought our pitching was good this whole series,” Brooks said.

In game two, the bats took on a bigger role.

With PLNU (8-9, 1-3) ahead 4-3 in the eight inning, TMC catcher Bryan Lucas drove a 2-2 fastball the other way for a three-run home run to right field.

The eventual game-winning shot came after a lengthy at-bat where Lucas had to fight off numerous pitches.

“I wanted to stick with my approach to the right side,” Lucas said. “I had a couple of tough at-bats early, but I just wanted to stick with what our coaches tell us, to the right side.”

Lucas also went 2-for-3 with an RBI in the early game.

The homer came off Sea Lions pitcher Chris Gonzales, who took the loss after throwing 1 2/3 innings during which he gave up three hits, two walks and the three runs.

“We had plenty of opportunities to score runs and didn’t capitalize,” said PLNU head coach Joe Schaefer. “We left a lot of guys in scoring position.”

Tommy Kister was the winning pitcher for the Mustangs. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning in relief, and Zack Anderson picked up the save by retiring PLNU in order in the ninth.

Up until the eighth inning, it was a game where the Mustangs had to hang around while the offense struggled to get runners in scoring position across.

Joe Riddle hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning and Tanner Leighton scored on a wild pitch earlier in the inning for TMC’s first three runs of the game.

Outside of that, the Mustangs left eight runners on base and fell behind by a run when starter James Scott gave up his fourth earned run of the game in the seventh.

Scott allowed seven hits and struck out four in seven innings of work.

“We were a little nervous in this first series,” Lucas said. “And I think we have a lot of games ahead of us so we’ve just got to keep it going.”

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