Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
The line was long. A group of men formed a queue near the pitcher’s mound, waiting to embrace Kyle Adkins (pictured above) one by one.
The work was short. Adkins had peppered the strike zone with fastballs and curves, keeping Arizona Christian off the bases for almost all of a complete-game three-hitter.
It was the first time this season a Mustang pitcher had gone all nine innings, and it lifted the team to a 6-1 win in Saturday’s early game.
It was TMU’s third straight victory, and it made what happened later in the day more palatable.
The Mustang bats went quiet for the first five-plus innings of game two before Anthony Lepre and Roy Verdejo hit back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches in the sixth to pull TMU within one, at 5-4.
But that was the final tally, and it left the Mustangs (8-4-1, 1-1 GSAC) unsatisfied with a Golden State Athletic Conference double-header that began brilliantly.
Adkins was accurate and efficient. He needed four pitches to retire the side in the sixth and seven pitches to do so in the eighth.
Adkins said his arm felt great in the ninth when he worked around a one-out single to seal his second victory of the season. He finished with 99 pitches.
“I was just excited to get out there and close down a hard day’s work,” said Adkins, who struck out five, walked one and allowed an unearned run.
The junior pitcher, who transferred to Master’s after beginning his career at Cal State Bakersfield and Fresno City College, was quick to credit defensive plays made behind him – and several stood out.
Second baseman Jeremiah Farris ranged up the middle, scooped up a grounder and threw across his body to first for the first out of the sixth inning. Kameron Quitno snared a short hop at third for the second out.
In the eighth, Max Maitland made a sliding catch near the wall in right center.
“I didn’t have that many strikeouts today and still had a strong outing,” Adkins said. “That just speaks to how great our defense was behind me.”
Byron Smith hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning to break up what had become a pitchers’ duel, and Aaron Shackelford provided reasonable breathing room with a two-run blast two innings later.
“He got his pitch and that’s what he’s able to do at any moment: put a ball out,” Adkins said of Smith.
Of Shackelford’s team-leading sixth home run of the year, “You saw how far it went,” Adkins said of a baseball that traveled over the street abutting right field and high into the trees.
Lepre and Verdejo put on a similar power show in the sixth inning of game two.
Lepre’s sixth home run came with an opposite-field drive to right center. Verdejo stepped in next and scalded the first pitch he saw over the fence in left center.
Firestorm closer River Carbone retired the Mustangs in order in the seventh and final inning.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” said TMU coach Monte Brooks.
Here are the box scores for Game 1 and Game 2.