Ballclub snaps seven game skid, searches for steady momentum

Solid pitching in first game, but not enough to sweep Mustangs

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

On the heels of a 6-4 win against Los Medanos College in Pittsburg on Thursday, the baseball team returned home to face the Mustangs in the second game of the series, but lost 5-1 on Friday at the Baseball Field.

During Thursday’s win Comet starting pitcher David Gustafson threw a complete game and did not give up a hit until the sixth inning.

Gustafson said the key to the team’s success in Thursday’s game against the Mustangs (13-15 overall and 7-9 in the Bay Valley Conference) was that everyone backed each other up and played as a team.

In the win, seven of Contra Costa College’s (6-21 overall and 4-12 in the Bay Valley Conference) batters registered hits and only four runners were left stranded on base. 

The Comets will have an opportunity to regain velocity when the team faces Mendocino College Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at the Baseball Field.

Friday, however, was a different experience for the squad. With emotions high and the team seemingly ready to build on the momentum from its last win, the Mustangs had a different plan in mind.

In a classic pitchers duel, Comet starter Christian Saddler matched up against Mustang Brian Womac. Neither player gave up a run until the fifth inning when LMC’s Jerome Hill’s single knocked in the game’s first run.

“This was a well-pitched game,” Comet assistant coach Brian Guinn said. “We hit some balls hard and they did too. All you can do is tip your hat to them.”

With eight potential baserunners and only one run, it was clear to the squad that they let a lot of opportunities slip by.

“Our pitcher had a good game but we couldn’t back him up,” Comet outfielder Rome Watson said. “We didn’t execute like we needed to. When we needed the runs we just couldn’t get them.”

Although the Comet bats petered out, defensively, the outfield made a number of sliding and diving catches that saved potential runs that would have otherwise opened the scoring.

In the fifth inning after LMC scored its first run, with two outs and runners in scoring position, a fly ball was hit into shallow center field. Speedy outfielder Timmion Hughes (1 for 4 at bat) sprang into action charging toward the hit and diving to make a spectacular catch.

Despite Guinn’s description of the game as well-pitched, Comet players still think the team energy level was the biggest reason for the team’s lackluster performance.

“Today’s loss was all about energy,” Comet designated hitter Aaron Oaks (3 for 4 at bat) said. “When we beat them in the last game we were on a seven-game losing streak, (the longest of the season) they thought they had an easy win coming and we stepped up. Today it wasn’t there.”

After showing signs of fatigue in the top of the eighth inning, and giving up a third hit, Comet coach Marvin Webb decided to make a pitching change. Webb sent Jesse Garcia to the mound to replace Saddler.

“I was missing a lot of my spots today,” Saddler said. “My change-up was working well—usually it is pretty wild.”

Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Comets finally got their offense in motion. Leander Carter’s single brought third baseman Jared Barunda home for the squad’s lone run of the day.

Carter was caught attempting to steal second soon after. The call was so close that Webb wasted no time finding his way to second base to argue the call, but his argument was not persuasive.

“We didn’t put the bat on the ball correctly and when we did we got too much air under it or we didn’t find the gaps,” Barunda said. “When the game is close you want to come up clutch.”

Despite getting on the board in the eighth, the Comets could not capitalize on their good fortune. LMC continued to find the gaps in the CCC infield late into the game and singled its way into two more scores in the top of the ninth.