Doubling Up Vanguard

April 30, 2015

Santa Clarita, Calif. -- Sam Robison drove in three runs and Jason Karkenny grinded out his second complete-game victory of the season as The Master's College opened play in the GSAC Tournament with an 8-4 win over Vanguard Thursday afternoon on Reese Field.

The victory kept the top-seeded and No. 8 Mustangs in the tourney's winners' bracket where they'll play No. 2 seed and 14th-ranked Westmont on Friday at noon. Earlier in the day, the Warriors opened the double-elimination tournament with a 2-1 edging of No. 21 Concordia.

Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA), who allowed a season-high 10 hits, was clearly not himself in a ragged first inning, surrendering a run on two hits as the Lions jumped ahead 1-0. 

However, his teammates got that run back and then some in their initial at-bat, and Robison (San Juan Capistrano, CA) provided the big hit.  Lead-off man Jon Popadics (Boise, ID) reached second base on a Lion error, advanced to third on a Steve Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) infield single, and scored the tying run on Collin Nyenhuis' (Vista, CA) fielder's choice. 

Nick Covello (Skillman, NJ) walked and then he and Nyenhuis moved up 90 feet each on a wild pitch prior to a walk by Josh Brown (Valencia, CA) that loaded the bases.  Following a Tyler Krahn (Abbotsford, BC, Canada) strikeout, Robison clutched up with a two-out single to right-center field that unlocked the tie and put the Mustangs ahead for good, 3-1.

Regaining his form, Jason Karkenny made that advantage stand up, starting with a shutdown second inning and then two more similar frames in a row. 

The Mustang offense gave their right-handed ace even more room to work with in the second when they took advantage of two more Lion errors and rapped out four hits in a five-run frame.  A Steve Karkenny rbi single plated Caleb Halverson (Temple City, CA) with the inning's first run, Krahn added a run-scoring single through the left side, bringing home Covello, and Robison capped the outburst with an rbi fielder's choice that scored Brown.  Steve Karkenny and Nyenhuis scored on the Vanguard miscues as the Mustangs extended the advantage to 8-1.

The Mustangs never scored again but then again they didn't need to as Jason Karkenny (11-4) protected the cushion adequately even though the Lions scored a run in the fifth inning and two more in the eighth to halve the deficit.  Karkenny finished with three strikeouts and walked just one, going the distance for the first time since his February 6 perfect game.

Two hits apiece from Steve Karkenny and Covello paced the Mustangs' eight-hit attack.

Fittingly, the top two clubs in the GSAC face off tomorrow with the winner needing to win just one game on Saturday to  win the GSAC Tournament championship before moving on to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round.

It will be the seventh meeting between the Warriors and Mustangs who have split the previous six games.