With a likeable personality and aggressive, yet laidback, approach the early returns for Mustangs head coach Chris Matile are good.
Last Wednesdayâ€™s 4-3 win over Forestview put the Mustangs at 3-1 on the young season as they begin Southern Piedmont Conference play tomorrow versus undefeated North Lincoln.
â€œBeating them (the Jaguars) was big, because theyâ€™re a good baseball team and our conference is full of good teams. A win against them was big,â€ Matile said. â€œWeâ€™re still doing it without one of our key players in T.J. Chapman, so these last three wins have been big,â€ he added.
Chapman, who tore a meniscus in his right knee halfway through football season, is expected back next week after completing rehab.
Senior Mitchell Lynch held Forestview at bay in earning a tough no decision as he pitched five innings, gave up three unearned runs, struck out five and allowed just three hits.
But what Lynch started, fellow senior Nick Harmon finished, pitching the final two innings, striking out two batters and allowing no hits or runs.
â€œIt was big-time. He faced six batters, struck out two and walked none. He came in there and did a great job,â€ Matile said.
In the bottom of the seventh, with the score tied at three, the Mustangs had men on first and second with no outs, but Matile, in an aggressive move, opted to let Jesse Cadenhead swing away instead of taking the more conservative approach of using a sacrifice bunt.
â€œHis last two at-bats, he had hit the ball hard, just right at somebody. Most people would go ahead and sacrifice bunt, but I had a lot of faith in him because heâ€™s a good hitter,â€ Matile said. â€œIâ€™ve been preaching to jump on that first fastball and drive it and thatâ€™s what he did,â€ he added.
Cadenheadâ€™s rip into right center proved to be the game winner and sends the Mustangs into Tuesdayâ€™s showdown against rival North Lincoln with confidence to spare.
Grayson Schram had two RBIs, while Lynch and Cadenhead both had one apiece to lead East Lincoln at the plate against the Jaguars.
Tuesdayâ€™s hosting of the Knights will be the first time for Matile, but that doesnâ€™t mean heâ€™s unaware of how big the Southern Piedmont Conference opener will be.
â€œItâ€™s an important game because itâ€™s conference, not just because itâ€™s North Lincoln. Itâ€™s something our kids talk about on a daily basis. I know how important it is to them,â€ he said. â€œBut we wonâ€™t change our game day, we canâ€™t change anything. We got to do what we do. Iâ€™m not stupid, I know what it means to the kids,â€ he added.
by John Mark Brooks