April 19th, 2012
IRVINE, Calif. -- Brent Clapper threw eight innings of one-run ball and Concordia jumped on two Mustang hurlers as the 12th-ranked Eagles flew by The Master’s College 9-1 in the first game of a nationally-touted four-game series Thursday afternoon in Irvine.
The loss dropped the Mustangs (30-16 overall, 15-13 GSAC) three and a half games behind the Eagles and coupled with Biola’s win over Pt. Loma Nazarene, they watched their hold on third place fall to half a game.
In what has been billed as the NAIA Series of the Week, the host Eagles drew first blood in their first at-bat, using a single, double, and a sacrifice fly off Mustang starter Daniel Sheaffer to gain a 1-0 lead.
On the way to his fifth win of the year, Clapper blanked the Mustangs through the first two frames but in the third the visitors strung together three hits to knot the game. With one out, Steven Karkenny singled up the middle and one out later he raced around the bases to score the tying run on Chris Talley’s double to right center field.
It stayed deadlocked until the bottom of the fourth when the Eagles nicked Sheaffer for a run that put them ahead for good. It was produced by a double, a flyout, and a sacrifice fly.
An inning later, the Eagles expanded their lead to 6-1, roughing up Sheaffer for four runs, highlighted by a two-run, Kyle Konicek double. That knocked Sheaffer (5-3) out of the game and the Eagles capped the inning with a run-scoring single off reliever Tom Gilbertson.
Meanwhile, Clapper was mowing down the Mustangs, retiring them in order from the fifth through the seventh innings and setting down 12 straight batters in one stretch. The Mustangs, who had six hits through the first four frames, managed just one the rest of the way.
The Eagles put more distance between themselves and the Mustangs in the eighth, scoring three more times on four hits off Gilbertson.
Talley was the only Mustang with more than one hit, stroking three on the afternoon.
The clubs play game two of the series on Friday in Irvine before playing a doubleheader on Saturday in Santa Clarita.