|Let’s Take Two!|
Spurred by a pair of outstanding performances from its starting pitchers, The Master’s College paid back William Carey of Mississippi double Saturday afternoon, avenging Friday’s loss by sweeping the Crusaders 8-6 and 4-1.
The Mustangs’ second twinbill sweep of the season lifted their record to 7-3.
In the opener, J. T. Adams (1-0), who had been knocked around in his two previous starts, tossed seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball as his teammates gave him plenty of support at the plate while the bullpen barely hung on at the end.
After stranding a pair of Crusaders in the top of the first, Adams turned it over to the offense and it responded with a pair of runs. Tanner Leighton stroked a leadoff single to left field, advanced to third when the Crusader pitcher threw the ball away trying to pick him off, and scored on Jared Otto’s ground out to first base. Then, Chris Talley stepped up and hammered a double to left center and scored when Adams rapped a single up the middle for a 2-0 edge.
Adams set the Crusaders down in order in the second and once again the offense wasted little time giving him more runs to work with, tallying three times on four hits in the bottom of the frame to take a 5-0 lead.
With one out, the Mustangs put runners on second and third when Parker Price walked and Ben Ives singled, and both moved up 90 feet when the throw from left-center field failed to nab Price at third base. Leighton duplicated his first-inning single with another base hit, plating Price and then Ives crossed the plate when Otto singled through the right side. Talley capped off the three-run onslaught with a single to left field, scoring Leighton.
With Adams keeping the Crusaders off the board, the Mustangs got him another run in the bottom of the fourth when Bryan Mitchell, hitting for Price, rapped a leadoff single to right field and eventually scored on Talley’s groundout to third base.
Fittingly, Adams retired the visitors in order in his seventh and final inning of work, the third 1-2-3 frame of his outing.
But, Adams’ superb work almost went for naught when the 6-0 lead was just about wiped out by the Crusaders, who manhandled reliever Daniel Sheaffer for five runs in the top of the eighth. It didn’t help that two of those runs were unearned off a Mustang error.
Still, Sheaffer wiggled his way out of the inning and the Mustangs got two of those runs back in the bottom of the frame. And, they did it with two out. Ives kept the inning alive with a base hit through the left side and then stole second. Leighton walked and then Ives pilfered third base. Then, when the Crusader pitcher tried to pick Leighton off, the attempt was mishandled by the first baseman, allowing Ives to score and Leighton to advance to second. Moments later, Leighton scored when Otto laced his second, run-scoring single of the game to right field, giving the Mustangs an 8-5 lead.
That proved to be enough, although, the Crusaders made freshman reliever James Scott work very hard for his first career save. They scored once in the inning and had two runners on base when Scott struck out the final batter.
The Mustangs finished with 12 hits, seven of those by the first three batters (Leighton-2, Otto-3, and Talley-2) in the lineup, while Ives had two, as well. Otto wound up with three rbi and Talley added two more.
The nightcap was offensively subdued compared with the opener but another pitching gem paved the way to victory for the Mustangs. Sophomore lefthander, A. J. Work, making his third career start, was just as effective as Adams in the opener. Pitching his first career complete game (seven innings, he struck out six and the only run he allowed was unearned.
That one run, coming in the top of the second, knotted the game at one. The Mustangs had jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first when Leighton drew a leadoff walk, stole second base, raced to third on an Otto fly out to right field, and scored on a Talley foul out to right field.
After the Crusaders tied it up in the second, parlaying two hits and a Work error into one run, the Mustangs unknotted it in the bottom of the third and once again Leighton was the initiator.
The junior shortstop led off with a single through the right side and then proceeded to swipe both second and third bases. He scored the go-ahead run easily on Otto’s lineout to right field. One out later, Adams blasted his team-leading third home run of the young season, a shot over the fence in right field to make it 3-1.
Work made the lead stand up the rest of the way, retiring the Crusaders in order once, getting a double play in another inning, and stranding one runner aboard in each of the fourth and seventh innings.
His teammates gave him one more run to work with, scoring the afternoon’s final, painful run in the bottom of the fourth. Both Bryan Lucas and Cody Harris were hit by pitches to lead off the frame. Courtesy runner James Sloan and Harris then stole third and second base, respectively, setting up Price who singled in Sloan for a 4-1 lead. The Mustangs just missed scoring another run when Harris was thrown out at home on Price’s base hit through the right side.
Following a 12-hit performance in the opener, the Mustangs were held to half that in the nightcap. Adams’ two hits led the way.
3-1 so far on the current, nine-game homestand, the Mustangs return to action on Wednesday when they host the University of British Columbia in a 2:00pm start on Reese Field.