Charlie Gillies tossed a complete-three hitter in the opener and Bryan Lucas slugged a go-ahead home run in the nightcap as The Master’s College swept away Pt. Loma Nazarene 3-1 and 6-4 Saturday afternoon on Reese Field.
The sweep was the Mustangs’ fourth this season and upped their GSAC record to 3-1 and 14-4 overall.
In what’s become an encouraging trend through his first five starts, Gillies was dominant in the opener, notching his second distance-going effort of the year and improving to 4-1. The righthander retired the Sea Lions in order three times and whiffed eight batters, including the final three he faced in the top of the ninth. He has now faced struck out 43 in 37.2 innings of work and owns a sparkling 0.97 ERA.
The lone run he gave up came in the top of the third when the Sea Lions sandwiched a pair of singles around a sacrifice bunt and a groundout to tie the game at one.
The Mustangs had drawn first blood in the bottom of the first when Jonathan Popadics reached on a Sea Lion error, moved to second base on Tanner Leighton’s single, advanced to third when Leighton was out caught stealing, and scored on Chris Talley’s two-out single to right-center field.
The score stayed knotted at one through the sixth inning as both Gillies and his counterpart, Tyler Garkow, blanked each other’s teams to that point.
But, in the seventh, the Mustangs broke the tie and Lucas, who would be the game two hero, started things with a leadoff single. Pinch-runner Caleb Halvorson reached second base on Bryan Mitchell’s sacrifice bunt and raced home on Popadics’ tie-breaking double down the left field line.
That knocked Garkow out of the game and after Gillies produced a shutdown top of the eighth, his teammates gave him a little more breathing room with one more run in the bottom of the frame.
Talley and Joe Riddle began the inning with consecutive singles and a Ryan Shackelford sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out. Pinch-hitter Spencer Toth was intentionally to load the bases and Lucas then stepped to the plate and hit a sacrifice fly to right field, plating pinch-runner Sam Robison with the game’s final run.
The Mustangs, who outhit the Sea Lions 11-3, were led by three hits from Talley and two apiece by Popadics, Riddle, and Lucas.
The club didn’t rap out as many hits (8) in the nightcap, but they produced more runs with a couple of big swings that rallied the club from behind both times.
The first of those came in the bottom of the fourth with the Mustangs trailing 2-0. The Sea Lions had forged that lead in the top of the third, getting to Mustang starter James Scott for a pair of runs on two hits and an error.
But, the Mustangs shrugged off that deficit in the fourth. Leighton was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and raced to third base on Steven Karkenny’s single up the middle. One out later, Karkenny swiped second base and then Sea Lion starter Garrett Levsen uncorked a wild pitch that scored Leighton, narrowing the deficit to 2-1. Riddle then stepped to the plate and blasted a Levsen offering over the right field fence for his first home run of the season and a 3-2 lead.
That narrowest of advantages lasted until the top of the sixth when the Sea Lions used a single and a triple off Scott to knot the game.
An inning later, they parlayed a leadoff walk, a single, a stolen base, and a bunt into a run that put them ahead 4-3.
Levsen, who lasted six innings, was the beneficiary of that run that put him in a position to win the game. Reliever Chris Gonzales kept the Sea Lions in front barely, working out of a one-out, first-and-third situation in the seventh.
But, he wasn’t so fortunate an inning later. With one out in the eighth, Shackelford was hit by a pitch. Halvorson, running for Shackelford, moved up to second base when Spencer Downs drew a walk and then Lucas came through in dramatic fashion. The senior catcher took a Gonzales’ offering and rifled it over the fence in right field, vaulting the Mustangs into a 6-4 lead. It was Lucas’ second roundtripper of the year.
That proved to be more than enough as closer Zack Anderson came in and set down the Sea Lions in order in the ninth, preserving Tommy Kister’s second win (2-1) of the year and notching his third save of the season.
Riddle and Harris had two hits apiece as both clubs settled for eight hits apiece.
With a 3-1 GSAC record coming out of the gate, the Mustangs now turn their attention to Fresno Pacific which visits Placerita Canyon next Thursday for a twinbill before the clubs turn around and play another doubleheader next Saturday in Fresno.