March 15, 2012
AZUSA, Calif -- Although Azusa Pacific has dominated the all-time series against The Master’s College, the Mustangs have come out on top over the last several years in what have been very tightly contested games, winning six of the last eight games against the Cougars. This season there is more at stake, as both teams enter the four game series near the top of the GSAC and with an opportunity to climb into the NAIA top 25 rankings that will be released on March 26.
The Mustangs scored first in the top of the second when, with the bases loaded and two outs, freshman shortstop Jon Popadics delivered a solid base hit up the middle plating two runs. The Cougars struck back in their half of the inning with a Matt Kimmel leadoff double followed by a J.C. Aguayo RBI single. The 2-1 Mustang lead was preserved later in the inning as Popadics started a 6-4-3 double-play.
Azusa took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth, which began with a Johnathan Erb single to lead off the inning. Kimmel then doubled for the second time in the game, and Aguayo picked up his second and third RBI’s of the game plating both runners with a single. In the top of the fifth, Master's wasted no time answering back as a Popadics walk was directly followed by a Tanner Leighton frozen rope homerun to right field, putting the Mustangs back on top 4-3. Four batters later, with two on and two outs, Bryan Lucas delivered an RBI single that brought Steven Karkenny home, and pushed the lead to 5-3.
Azusa cut into the TMC lead in the sixth on a two out RBI single by Matt Page, and then took a 6-5 lead in the seventh on a two out RBI double by Brent Warren and an RBI single by Jordan Leyland, who had three RBI’s in the game. The Cougars went on to score three more times in the bottom of the eighth and the Mustangs did not recover, falling 10-5 in game one of the four game series. Andrew Work (5-2) battled on the mound all night for TMC, but too often had to pitch out of trouble as the leadoff man reached base in six of the seven innings he started. Azusa got a solid outing from junior reliever Jason Plowman (2-1) who pitched two and a third scoreless innings, striking out three, and picking up the win.
The loss moves TMC’s record to 20-7 overall and 9-4 in conference play, while the Cougars improve to 19-5 overall and 8-1 in the GSAC. The Mustangs will be back at the Azusa Baseball Complex Friday afternoon to play game two of this crucial series. Game time is 2 pm.