Vasquez strikes out 10 in Faulkner’s 7-2 victory over CMU

MONTGOMERY, Ala. ( – Faulkner starter Mark Vasquez tossed seven strong innings and the Eagles scored four unearned runs en route to a 7-2 victory over Central Methodist here Tuesday night in the final game of Day 1 of the NAIA Baseball Championship Opening Round at Harrison Field.
The third-ranked Eagles, the top seed in the Faulkner Bracket, advance to play Vanguard (Calif.) Wednesday afternoon. The 16th-ranked Lions, the tournament’s second seed, knocked off 21st-ranked Texas Wesleyan 4-1 earlier Tuesdayafternoon. Central Methodist, which beat Texas A&M Texarkana 14-7 in the day’s first game to earn the matchup with Faulkner, will play in an elimination game Wednesday night at 7 against the winner of the game between the two teams from Texas. That game is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Vasquez, a senior transfer from San Diego Christian, allowed just three hits and no earned runs in improving to 11-0 on the season, striking out 10 in the dominating effort. The win was Faulkner’s 47th against 12 losses, while Central Methodist dropped to 44-16.
The Eagles got the California native an early lead, scoring three times in the bottom of the first inning. Alexis Cruz singled with one out and scored on David Palenzuela’s double into the gap in right-center field. With two outs and two on, Central Methodist first baseman Logan Bradley misplayed Dario Polanco’s potential inning-ending grounder, allowing two runs to cross for a 3-0 Faulkner lead.
It stayed that way until the third when Central Methodist scored an unearned run of its own. A one-out grounder to third baseman Dennis Morton was thrown away, putting runners at first and third. After a groundout to Morton for the second out, a pitch from Vasquez bounced in front of the plate and got away from catcher Mario Amaral, and Austin Fridley scored to cut the deficit to 3-1. Faulkner got the run back in its half of the third when T.J. Condon walked, moved to third on an Amaral single and scored on a King wild pitch to push the Eagles’ advantage to 4-1.
Faulkner added to its lead in the fourth. Morton and Nick Cain opened the inning with singles, and Morton moved to third on a flyout. Darrius Jennings then drove in the fifth Eagle run with an infield groundout. The margin grew to 7-1 in the fifth when Faulkner scored two more unearned runs. T.J. Condon doubled and Amaral’s grounder to short was thrown away, allowing Condon to score. A sacrifice bunt and Morton’s long fly ball plated another run.
Central Methodist scored an unearned run in the eighth off of Faulkner reliever Ivan Pelaez, and Kurt Lipscomb tossed a perfect ninth to end it. Cain was the only Faulkner player with two hits in the outing.