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College baseball: Even the bounces

TMC finding different ways to win

Posted: March 9, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 9, 2012 1:55 a.m.

The Master’s College’s Tanner Leighton, left, and Chris Talley celebrate after Leighton scored the game-winning run against San Diego Christian Thursday at Reese Field.

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The Master’s College baseball knows the importance of starting fast.

“We want to start right from the get-go,” said TMC head coach Monte Brooks. “We’ve been able to do that (this season) and it’s a blessing.”

And in two games of a doubleheader against Golden State Athletic Conference foe San Diego Christian on Thursday, that trend continued.

The Mustangs jumped out to a two-run, first-inning lead in both games en route to a 9-2 victory in the first game and a 5-4 win in game two.

But in the second game, it wasn’t how TMC started. It was how the Mustangs finished that had the dugout empty to mob center fielder Tanner Leighton at home plate.

In the bottom of the ninth of a 4-4 game that was scheduled for seven innings, Leighton stepped into the box to lead off the inning.

“I wanted to get on base someway, somehow,” he said.

TMC (19-5, 8-2) had already stranded eight runners in the game, after stranding just four in the first game.

Leighton’s struck a pitch deep into the left-field corner. He rounded second and took off for third in search of a triple.

The Hawks’ attempt to catch Leighton at third failed, and the ball ricocheted off San Diego Christian’s third baseman and into the TMC dugout, sending Leighton home for the game-winning run.

“I (saw the ball go in the dugout). I popped up and I screamed ‘That’s in, that’s in!’” Leighton said. “I don’t know if the umpire heard me, but I started running home.”

TMC found itself in need of Leighton’s heroics after SDC (8-16, 3-7) rallied to score four runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game on Victor Martinez’s three-run home run to right field off TMC starter Daniel Sheaffer.

Sheaffer finished with a no decision, working five innings, giving up four runs and striking out one with no walks.

Tommy Kister came on in relief to pick up the win, throwing four innings, allowing three hits and one walk and striking out two batters.

TMC opened up an early lead in the game, as Chris Talley hit a two-RBI double to give TMC a 2-0 lead after one inning.
Talley finished the game 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk.

Leighton went 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored, including the game-winner.

The start was a mirror image of game one, in which TMC also took a 2-0 lead after the first inning.

But in that game, the Mustangs continued to add to the lead and never trailed.

“I believe it’s really important for us (to score early),” Leighton said. “It gives our pitchers more confidence. Everybody was doing well and we got a great pitching performance from (A.J. Work).”

Work took the mound to start for the Mustangs in that game and went seven scoreless innings, giving up two hits, one walk and striking out five batters in a winning effort.

TMC got on the board in the first when Steve Karkenny tripled home two runs off SDC starter Lucas Whitmore.

Whitmore went six innings, allowing 10 hits and seven earned runs in the loss.

TMC struck for two more runs in the fourth on RBI doubles by Spencer Downs and Cody Harris, and added three more runs in the sixth and two in the seventh.

San Diego Christian got on the board with two runs in the top of the ninth.

Harris finished 2-for-4 in the game, with three RBIs and one run scored. Joe Riddle went 2-for-3 from the designated hitter spot with two RBIs and two runs.

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