|Something Old, Something New, Mustangs Win Two|
Tyler Bersano isn’t old by any means and Tommy Kister isn’t a youngster anymore, but both showed the advantages of experience and youth Thursday afternoon, hurling The Master’s College to a doubleheader sweep of La Sierra, 3-2 and 5-2.
The sweep was the Mustangs’ second of the young season as they improved to 9-4.
In the opener, Bersano, the “graybeard” of the staff, affirmed his status as the club’s ace, hurling a complete-game four-hitter and striking out 10 Golden Eagles. The only runs he allowed came in the game’s seventh and final inning when the righthander fought through fatigue to notch his second (2-1) win of the campaign.
Meanwhile, his teammates gave him all the support he needed in a three-run third inning. Ben Ives laced a leadoff double to left field, promptly stole third base, and scored when Tanner Leighton’s grounder was booted by LSU shortstop David Schloemer. Then, Leighton swiped both second and third, and trotted home ahead of Jared Otto’s run-scoring single up the middle.
Chris Talley moved Otto up 90 feet with a base hit to center field and J. T. Adams capped off the decisive frame with a single to right field, plating Otto for a 3-0 lead.
Bersano, who retired seven batters in a row from the second inning through the first batter of the fourth, escaped the fourth without any damage after hitting one batter and watching another batter reach base on an error.
He cruised through 1-2-3 frames in the fifth and sixth but ran into trouble in the seventh, walking the leadoff man and allowing an rbi double and a run-scoring single, slicing the Mustang lead to 3-2. But, he regained his composure in time and struck out Luis Holguin to end the game.
The Mustangs managed seven hits off Golden Eagle starter Chris Gonzales with Otto and Talley lacing two apiece.
In the nightcap, Kister (1-1) made his first collegiate start a memorable one. The Saugus High product twirled five solid innings, striking out four and allowing no earned runs.
After leaving a Golden Eagle on board in the first, Kister watched his teammates give him something to work with in the bottom of the frame. Ives drew a leadoff walk, swiped second base, moved to third on a Leighton groundout, and scored on Otto’s bouncer to the right side.
Kister blanked the visitors over the next two frames, inducing a double play in the second inning and retiring the Golden Eagles in order in the third. In the bottom of that frame, the Mustangs doubled their lead with one swing of the bat as Leighton, hitting a team-best .455, hit an inside-the-park home run.
That 2-0 lead lasted all of half an inning as the Golden Eagles used two hits and three Mustang errors to tie the game in the top of the fourth. The big blow was Gonzales’ two-run double to left-center field, tallying two unearned runs.
The Mustangs didn’t respond immediately, going in order in the fourth, but an inning later they erupted with a game-changing assault. A three-run frame was highlighted by two sacrifice flies and three hits, one of those a clutch single.
Ryan Shackelford, making his first collegiate start, led off with a bunt single and motored all the way to third base on James Sloan’s base hit to right field. Sloan then stole second base before Ives brought Shackelford home with the tie-breaking run on a sacrifice fly to center field. Sloan moved to third on the flyout, Leighton walked to put runners on the corners, and then pilfered second base.
Otto then stepped to the plate and sent a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Sloan for a 4-2 lead, and Talley finished off the uprising with a two-out single up the middle, bringing home Leighton.
The Mustangs didn’t tally another run but they didn’t need to as a pair of relievers made the score and Kister’s first win stand up. Fellow freshman James Scott took over for Kister in the sixth and worked three shutout innings.
He got plenty of help from his batterymate, Bryan Lucas, who gunned down would-be base stealers in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively. He made things much easier on himself in the eighth, retiring the Golden Eagles in order, highlighted by a pair of strikeouts.
Sophomore Mason Nesbitt took over in the ninth and earned his first save with a 1-2-3 inning.
The Mustangs made the most of five hits and Leighton led the way with two.
Having played six games in seven days, the Mustangs get some much-needed time off before opening GSAC play next Thursday (Feb. 24) with a doubleheader against San Diego Christian.