St. Vincent broke open a tight baseball game with Redwood Christian with six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning en route to a convincing 9-3 win over the visiting Eagles on Tuesday afternoon.
The final score was not a reflection of the closeness of the contest, which was controlled by starting pitchers Dusty Oliver of the Mustangs and lefthander Andrew Otteson of Redwood Christian.
St. Vincent led only 3-2 going into the bottom of the fifth inning when coach Jim Cleveland of the San Lorenzo-based visitors chose to pull the plug on Otteson's day of work on the mound, and the game got quickly out of hand.
St. Vincent greeted two Eagle relievers rudely with five hits, including an RBI single by Oliver and a two-run double off the bat of Mitch Sheppard. Before order was restored, the Mustangs had batted around and the contest had a completely new face.
Starters Oliver and Otteson were in total command early in the game after a shaky first inning by both teams. Oliver gave up a single tally in the top of the first inning on only one hit by catcher Marco Valencia.
Otteson had no better luck when three runs crossed the plate in the bottom of the inning with benefit of one hit.
The Mustangs loaded the bases with nobody out on two walks and a sharp single by George Sammon. They tied the score on a walk to Oliver that forced in a run. The next batter lofted an infield fly on a pop to second that was quickly called an out by the home plate umpire, but the ball dropped safely and two runs scored on some daring delayed base running by St. Vincent.
Both pitchers settled in as Oliver struck out five batters in his first start of the season. One more run came on back-to-back doubles, but Oliver closed the door with a routine ground ball to second base to close out the inning.
Otteson began to find the strike zone after the first frame, and found a command of a sharp breaking curve to hold the Mustangs scoreless until he was lifted in the fifth inning.
St. Vincent coach Gary Galloway replaced Oliver with reliable Alex Neve, who went two strong innings. Sophomore Will Nevin came on to finish up as the Mustangs coasted to their fifth victory of the season
Arman Yektaparast and Oliver wound up with two hits each for St. Vincent. The Mustangs were able to get runners aboard in every inning except the sixth.
Sammon reached base twice for the Mustangs and laid down an acrobatic sacrifice bunt to move a runner into scoring position in the big fifth inning. Sammon delicately got his bat high enough to put a ball on the artificial turf even though the pitch came in at cap level. Nevin chipped in by scoring twice for St. Vincent.
Valencia had a terrific day behind the plate for the Eagles, blocking pitches from every angle and throwing out Oliver on a no-doubt play at second base.
The Mustangs are schedule to make their annual trek to Fort Bragg next week on Friday and Saturday to participate in the Bill Pavoni Rotary Invitational Tournament. The northern tourney, a favorite of Galloway, always offers stiff competition from opponents not seen regularly by St. Vincent.