The Northampton Community College Spartans were looking to finish with a perfect 10-0 EPAC record. But Jay Kluka and the Montgomery County Community College Mustangs had other ideas.
The Mustangs were out for retribution against Northampton after suffering a late game lead in their last meeting back on April 9th. In what felt like a playoff atmosphere, with neither team wanting to lose and much on the line for both, emotions were running at a high. At times during the game, both benches had to be quieted down by the umpires, coaches and teammates alike.
Northampton took the early 1-0 lead on an RBI triple in the second inning, but Mustangs answered right back with runs in the 3rd and 4th innings. The scored stayed quiet until the 7th when the Mustangs scratched across another run to make the score 3-1. But that didn't hold for long. The Spartans were able to manufacture a run in the bottom of the inning. After seven innings, the score sat in the Mustangs favor at 3-2.
Mustangs' starting pitcher, Jay Kluka was nearing the 100 pitch mark and was starting to lose steam. Northampton's starting pitcher was reaching his limit as well, but he headed out to the mound in the top of the 8th inning.
Leading off the inning for the Mustangs was Anthony Pletscher who, up to this point, had a single but struck out twice. Pletscher ran the count to three balls and one strike; the ultimate "hitter's count." Pletscher got a fastball and took full advantage it, depositing it over the left field fence to put the Mustangs ahead for good and give them an extra insurance run at 4-2.
This was just the jolt of energy that Kluka needed to finish out this game. In what arguably could have been his best outing in his college career, Kluka struck out 16 Northampton batters bringing his season total to 86 strike outs. Kluka allowed 10 hits, walking two batters, allowed two earned runs, and recorded those 16 strike outs.
With 16 strike outs in this game, and 86 on the year, Kluka moves into sole possession of first place in Division III baseball. Following behind him is teammate Zach Wasson with 77; the next closest has 63 strikeouts.
With what could be a lethal one-two punch coming down the home stretch of the regular season, the Mustangs still have potential to improve their playoff seeding. They travel to Luzerne County Community College on Tuesday, April 30th at 3:30 pm. This game will decide Region XIX (19) playoff seeding rankings as Luzerne sits in a tie with the Mustangs with a 6-3 EPAC record.
The Mustangs will still have two regular season games left after Tuesday. Their final home will be on Wednesday, May 1st against Gwynedd Mercy College (JV) at 3:30 pm. The Mustangs final regular season game will be played at Community College of Philadelphia on Thursday, May 2nd at 3:30 pm.