Mountain House and Pacheco needed 31 runs in order to settle the score in their varsity baseball game in Los Banos on Tuesday. A couple of days later at the Dale Hansen Field in Mountain House, two scores were enough for the Panthers to snatch the Mustangs undefeated Western Athletic Conference record with a 2-0 win.
Everything was clicking for both teams offenses earlier this week as Mountain House took down Pacheco 17-14 on their home field. It was an exhilarating game that showed this Mustangs team, led by head coach Stephen Gatehouse, has no quit in them.
But a rather unexpected loss to the same team just a couple of days later – where simply nothing would fall at-the-bat – threw a major spanner into the works on what was beginning to look like a potentially undefeated league campaign.
The visiting pitcher, Pacheco sophomore Tyrell Jenkins, was virtually unplayable from the mound. Finding a comfortable range in the early going, Jenkins pitched an excellent game overall and saved a couple of dangerous situations where the Mustangs had the bases loaded with the game on the line. Gatehouse also paid Jenkins his dues.
“Their pitcher threw an amazing game and their defense played an awesome game,” Gatehouse told the Tracy Press after the game. “On Tuesday, both teams had a lot of trouble playing defense and today it was a much cleaner game. You want to see a game like today rather than the one the other day with so many runs.”
Mustangs’ pitcher, junior Roy Gardner, also was pitching with a lot of confidence but the Panthers batters simply had a little more fortune on their side, hitting some shots just out of the range of the Mountain House defense.
The Panthers opened the scoring at the top of the third inning when Shae Cabaly launched a triple deep into center field, driving home Andre Cabrera from first base. In a game of extreme fine margins, the hosts’ defense could not scramble enough to protect Gardner.
The bottom of the third is when the Mustangs had one of their potential grand slams on the table, but Jenkins recovered expertly – only for the Panthers to double the lead with the last run of the game at the top of the fourth, and not without a little controversy.
In what was probably Gardner’s shakiest inning on the mound, the pitcher walked three Pacheco batters including Abel Bravo in for the score after the officials huddled to discuss whether the deciding pitch was a strike or ball. It’s safe to say the eventual decision did not go down well with the home fans and dugout.
Gatehouse, though – humble in defeat – kept a cool head about the situation.
“I always tell the players you can only control what you can control,” the Mustangs head coach said. “All I can do is go and ask about it and if the call stays the same, then it stays the same. There is nothing you can do and you are not going to win a game with zero runs so that decision was not what cost us the game.”
With a call like that going against you, there comes a point where you just have to accept that it is simply not your day. You take your hat off to the opposition and live to fight another day.
Losses happen, but the fact that this was the Mustangs’ first of the season in conference play certainly stings a little, as it should. But Gatehouse has already started working on his players getting over that.
“It’s just one game,” Gatehouse said. “There are still four more league games to go and you have to just treat all of them equally. Baseball is a funny game. Anything can happen at any point and Pacheco just played better than we did today and that just happens sometimes. We just have to make sure that we are ready next time out.”
Contact Arion Armeniakos at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 209-830-4229.