With three games remaining in their regular season the South Western Mustangs know exactly what they have to do to gain a berth in the District 3 Class AAAA baseball playoffs.
Ranked 15th in the latest District 3 power ratings for Class AAAA teams, the Mustangs (10-6, 5-5 YAIAA-Division I) can't afford another loss if they hope to join the playoff field of 16.
Wednesday, the Mustangs took care of business against non-conference foe Carlisle (4-12, 3-9 Mid-Penn Commonwealth) with a 7-2 win at South Western High School.
"We'll see what happens," South Western coach Mike Resetar said. "We put ourselves in this situation. It is what it is. We have to come out and play baseball every day the next three games. I told the kids it comes down to what we do with what we got. We have a little bit of time between tomorrow's game and the games Monday and Tuesday of next week. We don't play easy teams so we have to come out ready to go."
The Mustangs were ready to go against the Thundering Herd, jumping all over Carlisle starting pitcher Jordan Neff by taking a 4-0 lead on four unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning.
The Mustangs got only three hits while sending seven batters to the plateonly three hits.
Matt Taylor got the Mustangs started when his infield fly fell when Carlisle's defense misjudged it. After an out, Bishop Elder walked to put two runners on with one out. An errant throw on a steal attempt scored one run and an RBI single by Parker Bean made it 2-0. A two-run home run by Brandon Utz concluded the rally and gave the Mustangs all the offense they would need.
A hit batter and a walk in the bottom of the second inning set the stage for Bean's two-run double as South Western opened up a 7-0 lead.
It wasn't entirely all bad news for the Herd. Sophomore right-hander Billy Burger took over the pitching duties in the second inning and held the Mustangs hitless over the next four innings. He struck out five and issued two walks.
South Western starting pitcher Chris Mills spaced four hits over five innings of work to come away with the win.
"Scoring those runs early was really big," Mills said. "It really helps your confidence. It allows you to go out there and not worry about baserunners. In about the fourth inning, I started falling behind in my counts and they started hitting me around a little.
"Right now we are just trying to keep on an even keel. Once you put pressure on yourself and put your back against the wall, that's when you start making mistakes."
SOUTH WESTERN 7, CARLISLE 2
Carlisle 001 000 0 - 1 7 2
South Western 430 000 x - 7 5 2
Car, Jordan Neff, Billy Burger (2) and Ben Moore; SW, Chris Mills, Bishop Elder (6), Kyle Raubenstine and Brandon Monahan. SO-BB - Car, Neff 0-2, Burger 5-2. SW, Mills 5-1, Elder 0-0, Raubenstine 2-1. W - Mills. L - Neff. 2B - Car, Burger, Nate Marks: SW, Parker Bean. HR - SW, Brandon Utz.