A Walk-Off Winner
March 28, 2014
Santa Clarita, CA -- Sam Robison's one-out, bases-loaded single in the 11th inning scored Jon Popadics and The Master's College squeaked by Concordia 3-2 Friday afternoon in the first game of a pivotal GSAC weekend series on Reese Field.
The win gave the Mustangs (27-8 overall, 17-8 GSAC) sole possession of first place again in the GSAC after San Diego Christian (16-8 GSAC) took the weekend off from conference play and increased their advantage to 1 1/2 games over the Eagles.
In a game befitting two of the NAIA's top powers, the 12th-ranked Eagles and No. 7 TMC fought tooth-and-nail through 11 tense innings of play with pitching ruling the day.
Mustang starter Andrew Klausmeier (Northridge, CA) retired 12 of the first 14 Eagles he faced, tossing shutout ball through the first four frames. He gave up a pair of singles in that span but helped himself by picking a runner off second base in the second inning and then striking out a pair of Eagles to end the third following a one-out single.
Meanwhile, his Concordia counterpart, Andrew Brooks, proved to be just as stingy and even more durable despite giving up the game's first run in the second inning. Joe Riddle (Bakersfield, CA) led off that frame with a double down the left-field line, advanced to third base two outs later on a passed ball, and scored on Josh Swartz' (Overland Park, KS) single up the middle.
That 1-0 lead held up until the fifth when the Eagles evened the game without a hit. Klausmeier hit leadoff man Mitchell Esser, a passed ball moved him to second base, and a sacrifice bunt advanced him to third from where he scored on a groundout.
An inning later, the Eagles went in front, using a one-out triple and a groundout to take a 2-1 lead.
With Brooks putting up zeroes, that advantage looked formidable. After giving up the second-inning run, he allowed the Mustangs just two hits over the next five frames, holding onto the slightest of advantages.
However, that changed in the eighth when the Mustangs parlayed three singles, including a clutch, two-out base hit, into the tying run. Caleb Halverson (Temple City, CA) led off with a bunt single, moved to second base on Ryan Shackelford's (Murrieta, CA) sacrifice bunt, stayed there while Popadics (Boise, ID) reached base on an infield single, and then was thrown out trying to steal third.
Popadics advanced to second base on that play and then raced home on Steve Karkenny's (Chatsworth, CA) single through the left side, tying the game.
In the top of the ninth, Karkenny (2-0) exchanged his first baseman's glove for a regular mitt and went to the mound where he did what he's done all year in relief, toss scoreless ball, this time three frames' worth as he ran his shutout streak to 18 2/3 innings.
He was matched by Brooks who continued to do just enough on his way to a 10-inning no-decision.
When he didn't come out for the 11th, the Mustangs breathed a sigh of relief and then went after reliever Logan Truex. The lefthander plunked Shackelford to start the inning and it didn't get much better. Popadics singled him to second base where he was picked off. Karkenny walked and then Collin Nyenhuis (Vista, CA) singled up the middle to load the bases.
Then, Robison stepped to the plate and ended things with the infield single that plated Popadics with the running run.
Popadics went 3-4 to lead the Mustangs' 10-hit attack while Swartz added two more hits.
There's little reason to believe that things won't be just as close tomorrow when the clubs tangle in a doubleheader that starts at noon on Reese Field.