April 28th, 2012
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- Just days away from the start of the GSAC Tournament, The Master’s College tuned up with a non-conference sweep Friday afternoon, beating visiting La Sierra 10-2 and 7-0 in a pair of seven-inning games on Reese Field.
The win improved the Mustangs to 33-19 and gave them their ninth sweep of the campaign, including their second of the Golden Eagles.
In the opener, the Mustangs started quickly and never looked back. Keyed by Tanner Leighton and finished off by Chris Talley, the Mustangs struck for two runs in their first at-bat. Leighton worked a leadoff walk, promptly stole second and third bases, and trotted home on Jonathan Popadics’ sacrifice fly to center field. An out later, Talley lifted his team-high tying eighth home run over the left field fence for a 2-0 lead.
An inning later, they rapped out five hits and tallied three more runs with two outs to go up 5-0. Leighton kept the inning alive with a bunt single, pilfered second and third for the second time in as many innings, and scored ahead of Popadics’ first home run of the season, a shot over the fence in left field. Spencer Downs followed with a double to center field and Talley drove him home with another two-bagger, this one to right-center field.
The Mustangs kept the “score every inning” habit going in the third, making it 6-1 when Cody Harris laced a lead-off triple to right center and scored on Bryan Mitchell’s sacrifice fly to right field.
Benefitting from this scoring outburst was Steve Karkenny. The freshman hurler, making his second start of the season, went three innings and gave up a single run in the top of the third. He handed the ball over to usual starter Charlie Gillies in the fourth and the senior righthander blanked the Eagles in his only inning on the mound which was good enough to earn his eighth (8-5) win of the season.
Following two scoreless frames, the Mustangs completed their 10-run assault in the sixth, scoring four more runs. Pinch hitter James Sloan doubled in one run, Ryan Shackelford tripled in another, Micah Secor’s infield single made it 9-0, and Spencer Toth capped the scoring with a run-scoring single to right field.
Eleven Mustangs accounted for 13 hits with Talley and Harris collecting two apiece.
The Mustangs used some of the same formula in the nightcap, scoring three times in the bottom of the first to go ahead for good. They rapped out three hits but took advantage of a pair of Golden Eagle errors, a wild pitch, a balk, and two stolen bases to forge a 3-0 lead.
Once again, Leighton was the instigator. He led off with an infield single, stole second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a balk. Sam Robison followed Leighton around the bases after earning a walk, going to second on the balk, moving to third base on a Downs’ single, and scoring on an error by the Golden Eagle catcher. Downs eventually scored, too, racing home from second base on Joe Riddle’s one-out single to right field.
Meanwhile, Mustang starter Tom Gilbertson was mowing down the Golden Eagles. In his second start of 2012, the senior righthander worked just three innings and struck out five batters. Following the pattern of the opener, the ball was handed over to a starter in the fourth as A. J. Work pitched just one inning, a scoreless one at that, and picked up the win, his club-high 10th win (10-2)of the year.
In the bottom of that inning, the Mustangs doubled their run total, turning four hits into a three runs and a 6-0 advantage. Robison doubled in Leighton, who had singled and stole second and third bases again, with the first run of the frame and then scored ahead of Downs’ fourth homer of the year, a blast over the right field fence.
An inning later, the Mustangs wrapped up the scoring and the sweep when Karkenny swatted a leadoff home run over the center field fence, his third roundtripper of the year.
The club followed up their 13-hit assault in the opener with 12 more in the nightcap. Leighton and Downs paced the attack with three hits apiece while Riddle had two more.
With the regular season complete, the Mustangs now turn their attention to the GSAC Tournament which they enter as the fourth seed. They will start the tourney against third-seeded Biola on Tuesday at a time still to be determined.