Neither Rain, Nor Wind, Nor Cold
March 1, 2014
Santa Clarita, CA -- The U. S. Postal Service has nothing on The Master's College baseball team. At least on this cold, rainy Saturday in Placerita Canyon.
One day after having their scheduled doubleheader with Menlo washed away by a persistent downpour, the Mustangs, despite more bad weather, were able to get two in against the Oaks, shutting out the visitiors 1-0 in the opener and then relying on its prolifice offense to take the nightcap 11-2.
The sweep was the club's fifth in 2014 and improved its record to 21-3.
The first game featured an old-fashioned pitchers' duel as Mustang righthander James Scott (Canyon Country, CA) and Menlo's Daniel Chavez tossed gems that were interrupted only in the third inning and then threatened in the seventh.
Making his fourth start of the season after coming back from off-season elbow surgery, Scott (2-0) was superb in his finest outing yet. Throwing like the ace he was projected to be prior to the start of the campaign, the righthander faced the minimum 15 batters through the first five frames, holding the Oaks hitless and retiring 12 batters in a row during one stretch.
Meanwhile, his counterpart, Chavez, was nearly as effective, limiting the Mustangs to a season-low three hits in his six-inning complete game. He made one mistake, though, and it cost him and his team the game.
It came in the third inning when with one out he threw a pitch that Steve Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) deposited over the left-field fence for his second home run of the season and a 1-0 lead that would hold up the rest of the way.
The Mustangs had other chances to score against Chavez, but couldn't get a runner home from third with just one out in the fifth and then stranded runners at second and third an inning later.
Prior to that, the Oaks broke up Scott's no-hit bid in the sixth on Mickey Phelps' two-out single to left field.
An inning later, the Oaks threatened the shutout and had a chance to take the lead, too.
An inning-opening single, a sacrifice, and a walk chased Scott who was replaced by Jason Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA). The freshman reliever helped himself immediately when he picked off Nick Quejado at second base. However, an error and a stolen base put runners at second and third with two outs before Karkenny closed down the rally by getting a game-ending flyout to right-center field.
Karkenny preserved Scott's (2-0) second win of the year and notched his second save in the process.
No save was needed in the nightcap as the game turned quickly into a runfest, at least when the Mustangs were at the plate.
Ryan Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) started it off with a two-run triple in the bottom of the first, scoring Karkenny, who had been hit by a pitch, and Jon Popadics (Boise, ID), who had singled through the left side. Shackelford wasn't at third base very long as designated hitter Joe Riddle (Bakersfield, CA) plated him with a groundout, giving the Mustangs a 3-0 lead.
The Oaks answered in the top of the second, dinging Mustang starter Tommy Kister (Saugus, CA) for a run, narrowing the gap to two runs with a single and a rbi double.
However, that was the lone run the visitors tallied against Kister who wound up going five innings, limiting the Oaks to four hits and improving to 3-0.
Kister didn't have to worry at all after the fourth inning as his teammates scored three runs in the third and five more in the fourth to turn a close game into a runaway.
In the third inning, Steve Karkenny tripled in Sam Robison (San Juan Capistrano, CA), who had reached on an error, reclaiming a three-run advantage. Moments later, Karkenny trotted home from third on a Popadics' double to the alley in left-center field and then the Mustang shortstop raced home from second base when Menlo's pitcher committed an error.
That 6-1 lead mushroomed to a 10-run advantage an inning later. Robison drove in the first run of the fourth, singling in Anthony Leal (San Juan Capistrano, CA) from third base. Karkenny then stepped to the plate and whacked a two-run double to right-center field, bringing home courtesy runner Bryce Clancy (Phoenix, AZ) for his second and third rbi of the game. Popadics followed with his second run-scoring double in as many innings, a shot down the left-field line that plated Karkenny. After Popadics advanced to third base on a wild pitch, Shackelford capped the five-run outburst with a sacrifice fly to center field that scored his teammate for an 11-1 lead. It was his third rbi of the game.
The Mustangs didn't score again, but then again, they didn't need to. Three pitchers followed Kister to the mound and combined to pitch the next four innings, including the ninth when the Oaks added a meaningless run.
After being held to a season-low in the opener, the Mustangs rapped out 10 hits in the nightcap, led by three from Popadics and two more by Karkenny.
The Mustangs will have little time to savor the sweep as they complete the weekend series against the Oaks with a rare Sunday game. The first pitch will be thrown at 1:45pm on Reese Field.