Mustang Axes Split Oaks
February 26, 2013
By Mason Nesbitt, TMC Sports Information Intern
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – The Master’s College baseball team entered Tuesday’s doubleheader as winners of six straight overall and eight straight conference games. After losing the first game 2-0 to Menlo, the Mustangs (16-6, 11-4 GSAC) were in danger of a complete letdown. However, three Mustang seniors made sure that didn’t happen.
A.J. Work (Boise, ID) shook off a long first inning in game two, to throw six innings, allowing three hits and two runs (one earned) in a 3-2 Mustang victory. Work also struck out a season-high eight batters and improved to 6-1. The victory moved the southpaw into the No. 2 spot on the career wins list with 24, trailing only the 28 put up by Mustang Hall of Famer Chris Beck from 1991-94.
“After the first inning, I was not going to let it get me down,” said Work. “It’s time to wake up and fight for the team, and not let that first inning affect what was going to happen the rest of the game.”
Despite Work’s efforts, the Mustangs still trailed 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth. But that deficit was cut in half when senior Spencer Downs (Kelso, WA) hit his second line-drive home run of the season to right field.
The Mustangs struck again in the fifth, this time sparked by Work’s leadoff single. Work, who was the first pitcher Coach Brooks has allowed to hit for himself this season, then advanced to third when Jon Popadics (Boise, ID) doubled.
With runners at second and third, Brooks went to his bench. Senior Chris Talley (Simi Valley, CA), normally the Mustangs’ starting catcher, stepped to the plate.
“Going into the game you want what is best for the team,” said Talley. “Coach put a lot of confidence in me and I was able to trust myself in the at-bat and help the team out and get us a run.”
Talley’s single scored Work and tied the game, 2-2. Steven Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) then grounded into a fielder’s choice, allowing Popadics to score from third and giving the Mustangs their first lead of the afternoon, 3-2.
Tommy Kister (Saugus, CA) saved his fifth game of the season by retiring the side in order, striking out two.
In game one, Menlo (7-7) shut out the Mustangs. Daniel Sheaffer (Mt. Airy, NC), Andrew Klausmeier (Northridge, CA), and Cody Harris (Lakewood, CA) combined to hold the Oaks to only two runs while striking out eight, but the Mustang offense left nine men on base in the 2-0 loss.
The loss was not without two spectacular defensive plays. In the first inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Popadics saved the Mustangs at least one run. The sophomore shortstop made a diving stop on a ground ball up the middle and flipped it to Sam Robison (San Juan Capistrano, CA) at second base for the third out.
In the ninth, Karkenny made a diving catch in left field, to prevent an extra base hit for Menlo.
Five Menlo pitchers combined on the shutout, including James Jensen who picked up the win after going three innings. John Bowling led the Oaks with three hits while Mickey Phelps and James Threw each drove in a run.
Karkenny reached base three times for the Mustangs, two of those on singles, but the Mustangs failed to score in a game for the fifth time this season.
The Mustangs will stay at home for a non-conference doubleheader against Oregon Tech this Saturday. First pitch is set for noon on Reese Field.