Pitching, offense thrive as baseball sweeps Master’s
Just a few days ago, players called this the most important week of the season. A tie for second place in the Golden State Athletic Conference was at stake, granted all the pieces fall into place.
Biola moves into second-place tie
The first piece to the puzzle was taking both games of a home doubleheader against The Master’s College on Saturday, which the Eagles did handedly, winning 9-1 and 4-0, completing a four-game sweep of the Mustangs. Azusa Pacific University swept the reigning NAIA champion Concordia University on Saturday, as well, leapfrogging Biola over Master’s into a tie with Concordia for second place.
Biola continued to dominate Master’s on the mound, as junior starting pitcher Nick Turner ended his struggles at home, holding the Mustangs to just one run. He struck out five, giving up seven hits in his eight innings pitched.
Turner said it was improvements in his spiritual life that aided him on the mound, helping him to his second win of the year.
“I got advice from a very good friend to remind myself, ‘to God be the glory,’ before every pitch, and it paid off,” Turner said.
Turner and the Eagles clung to a one-run lead thanks to an RBI single in the second from freshman outfielder Paul Slater until the offense awoke in the fifth inning, scoring four runs and forcing Master’s to pull starting pitcher Daniel Sheaffer.
Junior center fielder Benji Sutherland struck first in the fifth for the Eagles, doubling home Slater from second. Two batters later, senior second baseman Vinnie Fayard singled to score Sutherland and senior catcher Nick Covyeau broke the game open with a two-RBI single, extending the lead to five.
“The offense was extremely helpful, and the defense was just as solid,” Turner said. “It’s really easy for a pitcher to succeed when the offense and defense are behind them 100 percent every inning.”
Slater, who was starting just his eighth game of the season, went 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs in the victory.
Sutherland’s hot streak continues into game two
The Eagles were up against arguably the best pitcher in the entire GSAC in game two, senior right-hander Charlie Gillies of Master’s. He entered Saturday’s doubleheader with a league leading 1.71 ERA and a 5-2 record, but Biola struck for four runs in the fifth inning, handing Gillies his third loss of the year.
Sutherland continued his hot hitting of late, doubling in the first run of the game to break the tie. Just like the four-run fifth inning in game one, run scoring base hits from Fayard and Covyeau added to the lead, including another two-RBI single from off the bat of Covyeau.
“My approach has been all about getting back to hitting line drives,” Sutherland said, who finished the series going 7-for-16 with four doubles, four RBIs and a home run.
Fayard, though, was the most productive player offensively in the series for the Eagles, as he’s been all season. His six RBIs led the team over the four game span, going 7-for-16 with a home run.
Fayard’s 33 RBIs on the season place him fourth in the GSAC.
Sophomore Javier Martinez was granted his third consecutive start in game two after replacing senior Kevin Ryan in the rotation two weeks ago, and continued to prove right Coach Verhoeven’s decision. He pitched five innings, allowing just four hits and no runs on the way to his second win of the year.
Martinez has allowed just two runs in his last 10 innings pitched.
Sophomore pitcher Erick Allen finished out the final two innings for the Eagles and struck out two, keeping the Mustangs off the board to secure Biola’s second shutout in as many days.
Biola outscored Master’s 22-3, recording 43 hits in the four games.
Concordia awaits Biola for a crucial four-game series starting at home next Thursday, March 29.
Both Biola and Concordia trail conference leader Azusa Pacific, who is 13-2 in the GSAC, by three and a half games.