Entering Saturdayâ€™s postponed game versus Bessemer City, Mustangs head coach Chris Matile had plenty of confidence in starting pitcher Jesse Guice.
Turns out it was well-founded as the sophomore right-hander threw a complete game four-hitter, while striking out 11 Yellow Jackets in a 7-0 shutout.
â€œIt was a great performance. He dominated from the first inning on through. He kept the ball down, his off-speed stuff was in the strike zone and just kept them off-balance the whole night,â€ Matile said.
The appearance was Guiceâ€™s second of the season after a tough loss to West Lincoln in which he struck out nine batters and walked none.
Bessemer City entered Saturdayâ€™s game in the midst of a six-game win streak, with a 3-0 record in the Southern Piedmont, while the Mustangs came in at 1-2 in conference play.
While the facts said one thing, Matile had faith it was just a matter of time before they put all three phases of the game together.
â€œThe kidsâ€™ hard work has paid off. Theyâ€™re working well together. We had pitching, good defense and good approach at the plate and typically that will end out with a win,â€ he said.
After struggling getting hits in the previous two games, the Mustangs came away with nine hits against the Yellow Jackets on the heels of pounding out 11 against Cherryville last Wednesday.
â€œTheir practice hitting has come to the games. Theyâ€™re doing a lot better jumping on the first pitch and not getting deep in their counts. If youâ€™re not getting behind in the count, you know youâ€™re going to get that fastball,â€ Matile said. â€œPlus, weâ€™re still drawing a lot of walks,â€ he added.
Senior Mitchell Lynch paced East Lincoln at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Jesse Cadenhead, Jake Black, Clint Hyde and Aaron Dishman all had a RBI apiece.
Zack Williams went 1-for-4 and Trey Blake was 1-for-3 to lead the Yellow Jackets.
Saturdayâ€™s victory was the second consecutive Southern Piedmont win and Matile believes his team has found its groove.
â€œThe kids are just playing well. Theyâ€™re playing to their capabilities and when they do that, they can play with anybody,â€ he said.
Tuesday, the Mustangs will pay a visit to Lincoln County rival Lincolnton. After a tough 11-10 loss at the hands of West Lincoln, Matile expects the Wolves to come out swinging against his club.
â€œWeâ€™re not overlooking them. They just took a tough conference loss, so I know theyâ€™ll be itching for a win,â€ he said. â€œIt will just be another tough conference match-up,â€ he added.
The Mustangs are 5-3, 2-2 on the season under their new coach Matile.
by John Mark Brooks