Late-Game Homers Lead To Split
Trading off final-inning home runs, The Master's College and Pt. Loma Nazarene split a doubleheader Saturday afternoon in San Diego.
Powered by J. T. Adams' ninth-inning grand slam in the opener, the Mustangs rallied for a 5-3 win but in the nightcap, PLNU's Allen Boyer hit a walk-off home run to give the Sea Lions a 2-1 victory and a split. Following the Mustangs' third split of the season, the club is now 20-19 overall and 11-15 in the GSAC.
Prior to Adams' team-high seventh long ball of the year, the Mustangs were frustrated by the inability to come through with hits with men in scoring position. Through eight innings against a pair of Sea Lion hurlers, the Mustangs had left 10 runners aboard and trailed 3-0.
One of those three runs was scored in the bottom of the second inning off Daniel Sheaffer, making his second start of the season. But, that's all the sophomore lefthander gave up through five innings of work. Still, he was on the hook for a loss.
The other two runs came in the bottom of the eighth off, ironically, Adams, who didn't fool too many Sea Lions in his three-inning stint. However, the pitcher turned batter in the top of the ninth would more than make up for that, helping himself to a win (2-4) in the process.
First, though, the Mustangs finally dented the scoreboard in the top of the ninth as Jared Otto drew a leadoff walk, moved to second base on Parker Price's single to left center, and advanced to third when Tanner Leighton's single through the left side loaded the bases. The rally was put on hold, momentarily, when Cody Harris struck out but Spencer Downs chopped a single through the right side, plating Otto and cutting the deficit to 3-1.
Then, Adams came to the plate and on a 3-1 count pulled the ball over the right field fence to vault the Mustangs ahead in dramatic fashion.
Freshman James Scott came on in the bottom of the ninth and did what every good closer is supposed to do: preserve the win. He did that and more in dominating fashion, striking out the side to notch his fifth save of the season.
Pounding out five hits in their final at-bat, the Mustangs wound up with 13 hits. Downs and Chris Talley led the attack with three hits apiece while Adams and Leighton had two apiece.
There was no hit parade in the nightcap, not even close, as the Mustangs produced just two hits and both of those came in the first inning when they scored their one and only run.
With two outs, Downs walked and moved to second base on Adams' base hit up the middle. He raced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Talley's single up the middle. And, unbelievably, that was it for the Mustangs as Sea Lion starter Kenny Houser shut them down the rest of the way. He went the distance (eight innings) and retired the final 22 batters he faced in a jaw-dropping performance.
His teammates evened the score in the bottom of the first against A. J. Work, sandwiching a pair of singles around a stolen base and a groundout. Although Work (5-3) wasn't as impressive as Houser, he still pitched valiantly, notching his team-high fourth complete game of the season. He allowed eight hits and struck out three.
Just like Houser, Work put up gooseggs from the second through the seventh frames but unlike his Sea Lion counterpart, he couldn't produce a shutdown eighth.
The end came quickly. Boyer stepped in against Work and whacked the sophomore lefthander's 1-1 offering over the right field fence for the walk-off win.
The Mustangs stay on the road this coming week as they play the first two games of a four-game set, starting on Wednesday, against Azusa Pacific in the San Gabriel Valley.