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Hawks Sweep Twinbill to Start Season

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CC_GSACFri., Jan 27th, 2012 [box score]  [box score
El Cajon, Calif. -- Baseball is underway at San Diego Christian College, as the Hawks hosted the La Sierra Golden Eagles on the SDC campus for the first time. The home field was kind to SDC, as the Hawks swept the double header winning the first game 11-0 and the second 3-1.

“It was exciting to be on campus and we got some great pitching in both games today,” said Head Coach Chris Bando. “It is a great feeling for the guys and fun to be here with the great fan support from the students.”

“What was especially exciting was Tyler Bailey’s inside the park homerun in the very first at bat on campus. “

In the top of the first, LSU’s centerfielder Manuel Sanchez led the game off with a double, only to see the Hawks starting pitcher Adair Robles strike out the next three hitters to leave Sanchez on third.

In the bottom of the first, Bailey stepped to the plate to lead off the game for the Hawks. On a 1-1 pitch, Bailey hit a sinking liner to Sanchez in centerfield. Sanchez charged hard and reached out for a shoe string catch. Instead, the ball scooted past Sanchez and rolled all the way to the wall. Bailey, running hard off the crack of the bat, slid in safely ahead of the tag for the inside-the-park homerun.

“I was just trying to do what I can to help the team win,” said Bailey. “I was looking for a pitch to drive and be productive for the team, and the ball fell in.”

“When I saw the ball get by the centerfielder, I was thinking triple, but when I saw coach sending me home, I knew I had the chance on the inside the park homerun.”

Following Bailey’s homerun, the Hawks were unable to push any runners across the plate until the bottom of the fifth. Although SDC threatened a few times, they were unable to convert with runners in scoring position.

In the bottom of the fifth, SDC sent 15 men to the plate, scoring 10 runs and blowing the game wide open. The inning was highlighted by the first seven hitters of the inning reaching base, including back to back triples by Nick Bando and Garrison McLagan to start the inning. Later in the inning, Bando singled and McLagan homered deep to right center to cap of the 10 run outburst.

As for Robles, the senior from Mexico City was on cruise control much of the day, striking out 9 over 5.1 innings, walking only one hitter.

Offensively in game one, Bando was 3-4 with 2 RBIs, McLagan was 3-4 with 3 RBIs, and Sean Sweeney went 2-2.

“We had a great approach coming into the first game today,” said Sweeney. “We had a good talk at practice yesterday and were focused. It was a good win because it helps to give us momentum and we saw that in game two. “

The second game featured a pitching duel between SDC’s Brock Heerdt (pictured left) and LSU’s Tyler Sirna. Both pitchers were in control much of the game, with the Hawks striking first in the bottom of the third.

In the bottom of the third, Sweeney was hit by the pitch to lead off the inning. Sweeney then stole second and advanced to third on a balk by Sirna. Following a Robert Aguirre walk, a wild pitch brought Sweeney home and sent Aguirre to second. After a strikeout for the first out, Aguirre stole third, and Bailey stepped into the box. Bailey drilled a ball to left center where Sanchez tracked the ball down, only to have the ball pop out of his glove at the last second. Following a flyout, the Hawks were able to load the bases on consecutive walks, but Sirna was able to get an inning ending flyball to limit the damage. However, SDC still claimed a 2-0 lead without the benefit of a hit.

Heerdt continued to pitch well, controlling the strike zone and keeping the Golden Eagles’ hitters off balance. LSU threatened in the top of the 6th, when Heerdt plunked the first hitter and fell behind the next hitter 2-0. In one of the only counts where Heerdt fell behind a hitter, LSU’s Kenneth Curiel drilled a fast ball into the left field corner for a double. With his pitch count rising, Coach Bando went to his bullpen and called on Jeremy Blare.

Blare struck out the first batter he faced, and fielded a sharply hit ground ball that looked to be headed up the middle. The LSU baserunner at third base was running on contact and Blare made a strong throw to the catcher Nick Bando who applied the tag for the second out. After a wild pitch brought home Curiel, Blare induced a groundout to end the threat.

Heading into the bottom of the 6th up 2-1, the Hawks were still without a hit. That changed with two outs, when SDC’s Chris Pascual drilled a hanging curve ball over the left field wall to give the Hawks some insurance.

Blare was back on the mound for the 7th, striking out the leadoff man. After a swinging bunt single, Blare recorded a flyout and a ground ball to end the game and collect his first save of the season.

Heerdt was excellent on the mound for the Hawks, going five innings, giving up one earned run, striking out five LSU hitters and walking none.

“This is a good start to the season, we came out with a lot of energy today,” said Heerdt. “While this is a nice win, there are definitely things to improve on.”

After the game, Bando praised his teams’ focus as the Hawks begin their season with eight games in eight days.

“We have a lot of double headers so we have to keep our legs fresh and need to be prepared,” said Bando. “I think the more games you play, the better timing you get, and we hopefully we can build off of winning baseball."

“We did a lot of things well today and anytime you hold a team to one run over two games, you are doing things right.”

SDC travels to California Lutheran University for a doubleheader on Saturday, January 28th.

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