Just A Sweep
There were no walk-off heroics, no late-inning rallies, just a couple of wire-to-wire finishes by The Master's College as they swept visiting Azusa Pacific 12-4 and 2-0 Saturday afternoon in Placerita Canyon.
The twin-killing was the Mustangs' sixth this season and finished off the four-game series against the Cougars with a 3-1 edge. With two weeks left in the regular season, the Mustangs are now 14-16 in the GSAC and 23-20 overall.
If the first three innings of the opener were any indication, it appeared that the two clubs were heading for another nail-biting finish as Mustang starter Daniel Sheaffer and his APU counterpart Ben Ruder posted gooseggs.
Sheaffer made it four shutout frames but Ruder couldn't match that as the Mustangs struck for five runs in the bottom of the fourth. The big blow was a bases-clearing triple off the bat of Chris Talley while Ben Ives rapped a run-scoring single and Tanner Leighton forced in the final run with a bases-loaded walk.
The Cougars came right back in the top of the fifth, getting a two-run single to slice the deficit to three (5-2) runs and chasing Sheaffer.
But, the Mustangs answered that with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame as Talley plated Spencer Downs with a sacrifice fly and Ives swatted his third home run of the year, a blast over the fence in left field for a 7-2 lead.
There was no response from the Cougars this time and they didn't score again until the ninth when the game was already in the bag. J. T. Adams was the reason why the visitors didn't make much noise the rest of the way. The sophomore lefthander, making just his second relief appearance of the year, hurled 3 1/3 innings of shutout ball, limiting the Cougars to just one hit while striking out two. He improved to 3-4.
On the other hand, the Mustangs continued to pick on Cougar pitching. They scored once in the seventh and four more times in the eighth to close out win.
In the seventh, Talley doubled with two outs, advanced to third base on a wild pitch, and scored on Ives' double to left field.
An inning later, the Mustangs managed just one hit but got plenty of help from the Cougars. The first run of the frame scored on a hit batsman (Downs), two more came home on an APU error, and Ives capped the game's scoring with a sacrifice fly.
Ives and Talley carried the Mustang offense, going 3-4 and 2-4, respectively, with four rbi apiece. Parker Price chipped in with two hits.
Observers of the first three games of the series would have been justified in thinking that the finale would be another long, high-scoring event. Besides, those games had averaged nearly three hours in length and 14 runs between the two clubs.
What they got was a complete opposite as the clubs' combined for just two runs on seven hits in a fast-paced 1:20.
Mustang starter A. J. Work and Cougar pitcher Jacob Cage breezed through the nightcap but it was Work who was just a bit better, thanks to Downs.
Working his fourth straight strong start and going the distance for the third time in a row, Work twirled a four-hit shutout and struck out six Cougars. His fifth complete game of the season is tops on the team.
In reality, he got all he needed in the bottom of the first when Cody Harris reached on an infield single with one out and scored on Downs' double to the gap in right center field.
Work set the Cougars down in order twice and was sailing along until the seventh and final inning when the Cougars used a walk and a single to put runners at the corners with two outs. But, Work capped his sixth win (6-3) of the season in clutch fashion, inducing a game-ending double play.
At that point, Work had two runs to work with because Downs had hit his first collegiate home run in the bottom of the sixth, a shot over the fence in right center field.
Downs' two hits led the Mustangs who now must play a doubleheader on Monday against San Diego Christian. It's a makeup of a twinbill that was postponed back in February.