SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- After three-and-a-half nerve-wracking hours, the Mustangs held on against the No. 23 nationally ranked Doane Tigers of Nebraska to win 13-11 in a game that saw 32 combined hits, 24 total runs, five combined errors, and three total balks. With today's win, the Mustangs improve their season record to 23-9. Doane's drops to 14-6.
Scheaffer allowed eight hits and four runs, and was replaced in the fifth by Tucker Richardson (Modesto, CA). Richardson shut down the surging Tigers in the bottom of the fourth, and only allowed one run and one hit total in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. He struck out five batters along the way and recorded the win, his first of the season.
Tommy Kister (Saugus, CA) came on in the eighth inning, but struggled to find his usual groove and gave up five runs and six hits. Dalton Thompson (Riverside, CA) effectively finished the eighth inning, recording the final out without allowing any more runs.
Cody Harris (Lakewood, CA), the sixth and final Mustang pitcher to get the nod, came on in the ninth inning, giving up just one hit and no runs. It was his third save of the season, performed in front of the ever-present Major League scouts who routinely come out to see his 93 mph fastball.
Despite some struggles on the mound, the Mustangs came out in force at the plate. As a team, they smashed an impressive 13 hits and 13 runs. Shortstop Jonathan Popadics (Boise, ID) and first baseman Spencer Downs (Kelso, WA) led the way, recording a combined four hits, five runs, and two RBIs. Popadics and Downs, along with Steven Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA), are all three on the Top 15 list for batting averages in the GSAC. An unusual outfield appearance by starting pitcher AJ Work (Boise, ID) proved to be a good move, as he went 1-2 with three RBIs and a walk.
Rolando Celis started the game for the Tigers, tossing two innings and giving up five hits and five runs. Tyler Lohr replaced Celis in the third. Lohr lasted through one out in the seventh, but gave up five hits and five runs as well. Tiger errors played a key role in today's game; fully four of the ten runs that Celis and Lohr gave up were unearned. Nabonasar Martinez finished for Lohr in the seventh, but gave up two more runs to the resurgent Mustangs. Brandon Stennis closed for the Tigers, allowing a final Mustang run in the bottom of the eighth. The loss went to starter Rolando Celis, whose record drops to 2-3.
Not to be outdone by the Mustangs, the determined Tigers chalked up 19 of their own hits and scored 11 runs. The Tigers lit up Scheaffer in the fourth and Kister in the seventh, plating a total of nine runs in these two innings alone. Doane was led by their three outfielders who batted sixth, seventh, and eighth: Andres Rivera, Alex Arkfeld, and Albert Thomas, who combined for six runs, seven hits, four RBIs, three doubles (one apiece) and four walks.
In a post-game interview, both pitching coach Sam Minyard and pitcher Cody Harris noted that the Mustang hurlers struggled with command and got behind in the count. However, both Harris and Minyard, as well as all the other Mustang players interviewed, expressed confidence in the pitchers' ability to rebound from today's performance and come out strong this weekend against San Diego Christian.
The Mustangs will travel to San Diego to face the Hawks (20-10, 11-10 GSAC) who are, according to TMC head coach Monte Brooks, on a roll and "extremely hot." Brooks said that they are playing like champions and this weekend will be a "dogfight."
By Sam Taber, TMC Sports Information Intern