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Baseball: Pair of lefties have Mustangs rolling for regionals

Bill Greul went to his cap during the sixth inning of Wednesday's game against Newman.

The bases were loaded with Newman Comets with two outs, and it was the first – and only jam – the left-hander had faced in a game where his team led 8-1.

The crafty veteran didn't go to his cap for help like the infamous Gaylord Perry. Instead, it was for motivation.

The senior has the words "NEVER GIVE UP!" wrote in marker on the inside of his cap.

"See this," Greul said, showing the words after the victory. "Whenever things get like that, I look at that and refocus. You can't give up out there no matter how tough it is."

Greul didn't give up, and he induced a harmless popup to end the inning.

Greul is the veteran ying to Joey Brackemyer's youthful yang in the Mustangs' feared southpaw rotation. The effective duo has the Mustangs on a 12-game winning streak.

"They have a pair of great lefties," Newman coach Tim Nelson said. "That's a luxury. But it also has to do with the work [Morrison coach] Ben [Sondgeroth] does with them."

Greul (6-2) has a 2.68 ERA in 47 innings, with 71 strikeouts and 27 walks.

"He's been here the last 4 years, and he's been the ace," Brackemyer said of Greul. "Whenever I have a question about a pitch, like my two-seam fastball, I know I can go to him. He's helped me a ton with my mechanics."

"He's a senior, and he's a leader," Sondgeroth said. "We expect him to be the one that sets the tone and the example."

Ask Greul and Sondgeroth about Brackemyer, and both can't help but grin.

"You mean the .15 ERA," Greul said. "It's ridiculous. He's just been throwing lights out all season.

"I was in that position of starting games when I was a sophomore, and it's not easy. But he takes the ball, and he never backs down."

Brackemyer was the third or fourth pitcher a year ago for the Mustangs. He knew coming into the season that he'd fill that slot behind Greul in the rotation.

He just didn't know it'd go quite this well. In 46 1/3 innings, he's allowed one earned run. He has 76 strikeouts and 18 walks, while giving up just 26 hits.

"I've been able to depend on my two-seam and four-seam fastball," Brackemyer said. "If the breaking ball isn't working, I can always rely on those. I am not doing anything too fancy. Just trying to get outs."

Greul and Brackemyer get the bulk of the starts for the Mustangs, but they aren't the only left-hander getting the starting nod.

Ryan VanZuiden, a sophomore like Brackemyer, is 3-1 in 21 2/3 innings with a 3.55 ERA.

The Mustangs enter the 2A Stillman Valley Regional the No. 4 seed. They'll host Oregon on Monday in the first game of the regional.

The seeds were determined before the 12-game winning streak.

"They are using that seed as motivation to prove themselves," Sondgeroth said. "It's a balanced regional. So no matter the seed, the team across the diamond is going to be tough. We have to keep playing well to come out of it."

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