Showing No Favortism
February 7, 2014
Irvine, CA -- Bryce Clancy scored the go-ahead run on an error in the top of the ninth and reliever Jason Karkenny made it stand up as The Master's College squeaked by No. 9 Concordia 4-3 in the first game of a key GSAC weekend series.
The victory was the third in a row for the 12th-ranked Mustangs and vaulted them into first place in the conference with a 6-1 record (12-1 overall).
Despite winning both the conference regular-season and tournament titles and being the only GSAC team to advance to the NAIA World Series last spring, the Mustangs were not the choice to repeat as voted on by the GSAC coaches in their preseason poll. Instead, that honor went to Concordia, so this series had some intrigue to go along with an early-season showdown of nationally-ranked clubs.
Taking advantage of the first of four Eagle errors, the Mustangs scored their first run in their initial at-bat when lead-off man Caleb Halverson (Temple City, CA) reached second base on a throwing error. An out later, he made the miscue pay off, racing home on Jon Popadics' (Boise, ID) sacrifice fly to right field.
Mustang starter Tommy Kister (Saugus, CA) protected that advantage through the first two frames, keeping the Eagles off the scoreboard despite giving up a pair of hits.
However, in the third inning, the Eagles sandwiched a pair of singles around a sacrifice bunt and a groundout to even the game at 1-1.
After the Mustangs went quietly in the top of the fourth, the Eagles got to Kister again in the bottom of the frame, rapping out a trio of singles, the second of which unlocked the tie and sent the hosts in front 2-1.
With Concordia starter Keegan Vuhl setting down nine batters in a row through the middle innings, that 2-1 margin stood up until the seventh when two more Eagle errors were part of a frame in which the Mustangs tied things up.
Sam Robison (San Juan Capistrano, CA) led off with a base hit to center field and continued on to second base when Concordia's centerfielder booted the ball. Moments later, Tyler Krahn (Abbotsford, BC, Canada) brought Robison home with the game-tying run, swatting a double to right-center field. Another error moved Krahn to third but a double play and a groundout kept the Mustangs from going ahead.
That tie lasted all of half an inning as the Eagles regained the lead in the last of the frame, using a leadoff single, a sacrifice bunt, a groundout, and a bunt single to move in front 3-2.
The Mustangs responded promptly, tying the game in the top of the eighth, this time without any help from the Eagles. Steve Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) lined a lead-off double to center field, moved to third base on a Popadics' single through the left side, and scored the tying run on a Joe Riddle (Bakersfield, CA) fielder's choice. The Mustangs had a chance to go ahead after Ryan Shackelford's double put runners at second and third, but a groundout and strikeout kept them from doing so.
They had to wait an inning to do that. Making part of that possible was a shutdown inning tossed by Jason Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA), who walked a man but kept the Eagles off the scoreboard in the last of the eighth.
That set things up for the Mustangs to take advantage of the Eagles' final error in the ninth to score what proved to be the game-winning run. Pinch-hitting for Krahn, Anthony Leal (San Juan Capistrano, CA) led off the inning with a single through the right side and was promptly run for by Clancy (Phoenix, AZ). Spencer Toth's (Asheville, NC) sacrifice bunt moved Clancy to second base from where he scored after Halverson's single through the left side was misplayed by the Eagle outfielder.
Karkenny made things a little too interesting in the bottom of the ninth, allowing a couple of one-out Eagle singles, but he whiffed a batter and then got a game-ending fielder's choice to preserve the victory and earn his third (3-0) win of the young season.
Outhit by the Eagles 14-11, the Mustangs were led by Popadics and Riddle, who had two hits apiece.
It will be a quick turnaround for the clubs as they play a doubleheader in Irvine on Saturday, starting at 11:00am.