Chris Talley slugged his second home run of the day in the top of the sixth inning and Zack Anderson pitched three strong innings of relief as The Master’s College salvaged a split of a GSAC-opening doubleheader against Pt. Loma Nazarene, beating the Sea Lions 5-2 in the nightcap after dropping the opener 8-4.
It was the Mustangs’ second split of a twinbill in 2012 and snapped a two-game losing streak in moving their record to 12-4.
Talley’s leadoff home run in the sixth was his club-best third of the season and extended the Mustangs’ lead to 3-1. It gave Anderson some breathing room and the big righthander needed it because the Lions got one run off him in the bottom of the frame and then hit into a double play with the bases loaded to end the frame and preserve the lead.
The Mustangs, who rapped out 11 hits in the second game, used four of them in their seventh and final at-bat to tack on some insurance in the form of two runs. Ryan Shackelford led off the inning with a single to right field and one out later was at third base following a Tanner Leighton bunt single. Steven Karkenny’s bunt base hit plated Shackelford and Joe Riddle’s bases-loaded single to left field scored Leighton with the afternoon’s final run.
Anderson allowed one runner in the bottom of the seventh but induced three groundouts to notch his second save of the year. He had relieved starter Daniel Sheaffer with runners at the corners and no outs in the fifth and worked his way out of that by getting a lineout double play and an inning-ending flyout to preserve what was then a 2-1 lead.
Those three runs had been scored by the teams in their first at-bat. The Mustangs struck for two of those runs when leadoff man Jonathan Popadics drew a leadoff walk, stole second base, and eventually scored on Karkenny’s one-out single center field.
The Sea Lions helped the Mustangs with their second run as an error helped Talley get on and then both Karkenny and him moved up 90 feet on a passed ball. Riddle then grounded out, driving in Karkenny from third base for a 2-0 advantage.
Sheaffer didn’t appear comfortable from the start, allowing a walk, two hits, and a wild pitch that enabled the Sea Lions to chop the deficit in half in the bottom of the first.
But, the junior lefthander worked his way out of that jam and another bases-loaded one in the second inning en route to his second win (2-1) of the young season. His best inning was the third when he retired the Sea Lions in order and then he closed out his four-inning stint by allowing just one hit in the fourth. He gave up five hits along the way and struck out two batters.
Shackelford led the Mustang attack with his second three-hit game of the year while Karkenny, who had two rbi, Talley, and Spencer Downs had two hits apiece.
The opener wasn’t as kind to the Mustangs who watched their ace, A. J. Work, get beat up in his worst outing of the season. The junior southpaw, now 3-1, went seven innings but he surrendered 10 hits and six runs, all of them earned.
He gave up single runs in the first and third innings, respectively, and two in each of the fourth and sixth frames as the Sea Lions moved in front 6-1. To that point, the Mustangs’ lone run came in the fifth when Riddle whacked a leadoff triple to right field and scored on a Downs’ groundout. The club could have had more but it stranded runners at the corners.
They added another run in the seventh on a Bryan Lucas home run over the fence in center field. It was the senior catcher’s first roundtripper of the year and made it a 6-2 game. The Mustangs threatened to add more but for the second time in three innings, they left two runners aboard.
Carving away at the deficit, the Mustangs made it interesting in the top of the eighth with a couple of swings of the bat. Karkenny led off the inning with a base hit to right-center field and then trotted home ahead of Talley’s shot over the right field fence, closing the gap to 6-4.
But, that would be as close as the Mustangs would get because the Sea Lions used the same method in the bottom of the frame, getting a two-run homer off the bat of Brian Burkhead to regain a four-run lead that produced the final score.
Karkenny, Lucas, and Cody Harris had two hits apiece as the Mustangs banged out nine hits.
The two clubs will go at it again on Saturday as the venue moves to Reese Field for another doubleheader that starts at 11:00am.