Russell Longworth may want to adopt the U.S. Postal Service's motto.
Be it rain or snow or the dark of night, the Merced College sophomore hurler always seems to deliver.
He proved it again on Thursday night at Blue Devil Field, fighting through a steady drizzle and occasionally more while silencing the Reedley bats.
Longworth allowed no runs on three hits while striking out seven in eight complete innings for his best performance of the season. The MC offense scratched out just enough support and the Blue Devils got back to .500 with a 3-1 victory.
"I like being out there in weather like this," Longworth said. "We train really hard so we're prepared for games like this. With the rain, you just have to stay focused the whole time and fight to hit your spots."
Longworth had no problem with that from the opening pitch.
He sat down the first nine batters he faced in order, needing just 29 pitches.
Only two runners reached second base in his eight innings, and both times it was with two outs. He exited the game with 97 pitches.
"Russ has just been tough on hitters this year," MC head coach Nate Devine said. "He's done a good job locating his fastball and then mixing in his changeup and curve.
"But the biggest thing has been locating that fastball down. When he does that, the other team is in for a long game."
On a night where neither team was able to put together many good swings, the Blue Devils (5-3 Central Valley Conference, 8-8) found a way to grind out runs.
Reedley's Nick Lee countered Longworth pitch for pitch for most of the night -- not allowing a hit until the fifth inning -- but had occasional losses of control.
Merced took advantage of that in the fourth inning, loading up the bases on three walks with two outs.
As the heavens opened up with a little extra moisture in the middle of the game, it just seemed a matter of time until the weather led to a crucial mistake. Phillip Parga helped force the issue by hitting a high fly ball to right field in the fourth.
The Tigers' David Mora closed on the ball, but had it bounce off of his glove and allow two runs to score.
"We've been struggling a little bit, so it's all about going up and having good at-bats," said second baseman Ryan Emerald, who squeezed home a big insurance run in the seventh. "You've got to make the pitcher work. You have to find ways to get on base and put pressure on their defense, especially on a night like this. We did it when we needed to."
Carl Jameson flirted with trouble, allowing a run on three hits in the ninth, but recovered for his second save of the week.
MERCED COLLEGE 3, REEDLEY 1
At Blue Devil Field
Reedley 000 000 001 -- 1 6 2
Merced 000 200 10x -- 3 4 1
Nick Lee, John Karch (7), Maxx Clarke (8) and Nate Broaddus. Russell Longworth, Carl Jameson (9) and Phil Parga. WP -- Longworth 2-2. LP -- Lee 1-1. S -- Jameson (2)
REEDLEY -- Richard Roque RBI.
MERCED COLLEGE -- Ryan Emerald RBI.
Records: Reedley 1-4 CVC, 4-10; Merced College 5-3 CVC, 8-8.