Back to back shutouts lead 'Stangs to victory

Rubin, Grimes have strong outings in season openers

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Matt Bekar sliding into the plate

Jon Purdy

DESPITE HIS BEST EFFORTS, THE UMPIRE WOULDN'T LET IT SLIDE. While centre fielder Matt Bekar was called out on this play, the Mustangs seized two games from the Brock Badgers over the weekend, with both of Western's hurlers throwing complete games.

This past Saturday, the Western Mustangs doubled up the Brock Badgers for a pair of opening day wins.

Western hosted a rematch of last year’s championship as the Badgers visited Labatt Park to kick off the 2007 Western baseball season. The Mustangs took game one 2-0 and rallied to clinch the second game by a score of 3-0.

Both teams hit the ground running with tight pitching. Sean Grimes and Jon Rubin pitched back-to-back complete game shutouts for the Mustangs, while Badgers pitchers gave up just five runs in two games.

“Both of our starting pitchers didn’t give up any runs,” Mustangs head coach Mike Lumley explained. “I don’t think we let anybody past second base so that was obviously pretty key.”

Brock was unable to capitalize despite working off of six hits in game one. This was the opposite for the Mustangs, who manufactured two runs off of just one hit.

What stumped the Badgers was Grimes’ continual surveillance and ability to catch a man sleeping on base. Along with four strikeouts, he tallied three pickoffs at first base.

“I just wanted to relax and throw strikes and just throw it right back to these guys,” Grimes said. “I wanted to take it to them right from the first game of the year and beat them.”

The Mustangs made sure to take advantage of any mistake made by the Badgers. Brock pitcher Nathan Penrose gave up a walk to ’Stangs catcher Conrad Bach, who immediately stole second to get into scoring position. Bach was knocked in by Courtney Morales’ RBI single to centre field.

Western added to their lead in the sixth inning with a sacrifice fly by centre fielder Matt Bekar to score rookie Ian Campbell and cap off a 2-0 ball game.

“Our main focus was just doing the little things like moving guys over,”

Lumley said. “We got the timely hit when we needed to. We did exactly the same thing in the second game and we got a few more hits.”

The Purple and Silver entered game two ready to keep the pressure on the Badgers. Western came out of the gates swinging and stealing. With six hits to work with, the ’Stangs took risks on the bases with five stealing attempts including one at home. Held scoreless through four, the Mustangs’ gambles paid off.

Outfielder Clarke Markle recorded an RBI to give the ’Stangs the first run on the board in the fifth. Second baseman Bruce Craine solidified Western’s lead with a single to right field to score two runs and set the score at 3-0.

“Today’s games were about execution,” Bekar said. “Early in the season, we just want to get the basics down and be an all around solid team.”

Rubin brought his best stuff to the second half of the doubleheader, using an effective fastball to give up just three hits and striking out four in seven solid innings.

“I wanted to give the team a chance to win,” Rubin said. “Sean pitched great in game one so I wanted to keep it going for the second game and take two from them.”

With starting Western catcher Ben Rich temporarily injured, Bach took over behind the plate and called an excellent game.

“To throw the right thing in the right situation counts and basically make sure we get a lot of ground balls and use our defence,” Bach said. “If we can do that, we can build off of our offence.”

Brock third base coach Wayne Briggs-Jude commented on Brock’s difficulty facing the Mustangs pitching.

“We faced two pretty good pitchers today,” Briggs-Jude said. “Western doesn’t give you any runs, you’ve got to earn them and today we didn’t earn them.”

Playing the rival Badgers, the Mustangs took the opportunity to jump ahead of their rivals in regular season play.

“Hopefully we can keep winning and stay at the top of the standings,” Bach said. “The last two years we’ve finished second but we won the championship, so this year we’re looking to be the number one team in the league.”

While beating a team of Brock’s winning reputation is a great way to start the season, Lumley stressed the need to maintain a strong focus in facing all competitors in the OUA.

“We can’t let off the gas pedal,” Lumley said. “Maybe Brock’s the big team but maybe they’re not and it’s somebody else. We have to keep our foot on the gas for the next 21 games.”

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