TEMECULA Mitchell Pound played four positions, including pitcher, and produced Linfield Christian's biggest hit of the afternoon Thursday.
Pound's full day of duty paced the Lions baseball team Thursday, but it came up just short in a 3-2 loss to visiting Western Christian and pitcher Ryan Olson on Thursday.
A handful of scouts watched Olson, whose velocity hit the low-90s, but it was the senior right hander’s off-speed stuff that kept the Lions off balance.
"Olson did his best as the game wore on and he had to go to the slider more," Linfield coach Jeff Nichols said. "As a young team, we're still learning to really get after the off-speed pitches.”
Though Olson threw a six-hitter, the Lions (4-3 overall, 2-1 Ambassador league) had chances to win and actually outhit the Lancers (4-5, 3-0), 6-5.
“This could have been a very different game," Nichols said. "We just failed to do some of the little things as well as we should have and (we) left guys on base."
The biggest of those little things came in the top of the first when Western shortstop Austin Matzaganian reached base with a leadoff walk and later scored the first run on a passed ball.
Linfield tied it in the bottom of the second when John Shurance reached with a one-out single and came around to score after Pound doubled to right-center.
The Lions' pitching carousel began in the third when starter Anthony Simeone was lifted in favor of Pound after giving up a pair of runs.
Pound, Taylor Bush and Shurance all combined for five shutout innings of relief.
“We pitched well but just came up a little short as a team in the end,” Pound said.
Linfield got a run back in the fourth following a leadoff walk from Shurance. Jacob Miller sacrificed Shurance over to second, and he advanced to third on an infield single from RyeZeir Wilkins. Shurance scored his second run on a passed ball, a call that was argued passionately from Western catcher Hayden Ivey.
With his fastball leaving him by the fifth, Olson switched tactics.
“(Olson) was rotating the way he attacked hitters," Pound said. "He was throwing a lot more sliders and he was throwing it first pitch, which he wasn’t doing when the game began."
Olson struck out six consecutive hitters, beginning with the last out in the fifth and stretching until Linfield’s Haakon Box grounded out back to Olson to end the game.
“You need baserunners to score runs,” Nichols said. “We had them most of the day but felt as if we were always one hit away from getting a win.”