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BASEBALL: Mustangs sweep series against Hawks

The Tulare Western Mustangs defeat the Mission Oak Hawks 13-1 in their last faceoff of the regular season

TULARE – Mustangs’ pitcher John Callison threw eight strikeouts and walked zero batters to lead Tulare Western to a league win.

The Tulare Western Mustangs ended their series against the Mission Oak Hawks with a 13-1 win on Friday, April 14. After beating the Hawks 5-2 on April 12 at home, the Mustangs more than doubled their runs when they visited Mission Oak on their field. The Tulare Western offense had their time to shine in a dynamic fifth inning in which the Mustangs scored eight runs. On defense, pitcher John Callison stayed on the mound all seven innings, allowing five hits and one run. He struck out eight batters and didn’t walk a single one.

“It’s never easy to win a series, to sweep them all the way through,” Tulare Western head coach Ken Searcy said. “It’s never easy to do that with any team and [Mission Oak] is a very good baseball team.”

Callison didn’t start on the mound against the Hawks on April 12, so he was fresh for their second meeting. On offense, he made huge contributions, particularly in the fifth inning when the Mustangs scored eight runs. Callison batted in two of them. On defense, he pitched the entire game, allowing only one run in the fifth inning. He struck out eight batters over seven innings and walked none.

“I couldn’t have done it without my defense,” Callison said. “It’s great knowing that they’re behind you whenever you get a ball hit. It takes all the pressure off you.”

Searcy said that pitching and defense are the Mustangs’ bread and butter. But in this game, the pressure was off the defense after scoring so many runs on offense. They didn’t let up, as their main defensive strategy was sending so many runners around the bases that the Hawks had little chance to catch up, even if they weren’t facing Callison on the mound.

The Mustangs organized their batting lineup around Mission Oak’s starting pitcher Gage Hastin. Hastin stayed in through the first part of the fifth inning, but was subbed out after the Mustangs started scoring runs. He struck out four batters and allowed seven hits and eight runs.

“He’s our number one guy, but he was not on today,” Mission Oak head coach Kevin Break said. “They did what they needed to do and that was the difference today.”

This was the Mustangs’ third defeat of the Hawks and their largest margin of victory. On March 17, they won 8-2, then had the 5-2 victory earlier in the week. Sweeping a cross town rival was a great start to the second half of league play for the Mustangs. Next week they have a series against Dinuba, beginning with a home game on April 19, before a double header on April 21. They have to make up an earlier game that was canceled for rain.

This was the fourth league loss for the Hawks with unfortunate timing ahead of their three-game series against Lemoore beginning on April 17. They won’t have a double-header, but are also making up a game that was canceled for rain earlier this season. Lemoore is undefeated in league play and will pose a tough opponent for the Hawks.

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