James Scott (P)
It’s one thing to be part of the celebration that punctuates a walk-off win. It’s quite another to watch it happen in front of you as The Master’s College baseball team did Tuesday afternoon when host Lewis-Clark St. scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to eliminate the Mustangs from the 2013 Avista-NAIA World Series.
Jake Shirley’s two-out single through the right side scored pinch-runner Kevin Knapp with the winning run, capping off an improbable Warrior rally that ruined a brilliant pitching performance by junior James Scott (Canyon Country, CA). The 3-2 loss ended the Mustangs’ most successful season in program history at 44-17 and a couple of games short of a national championship.
Scott (7-5), who was making his first start since beating San Diego 3-1 in the National Championship Opening Round on May 10, was up to the task of keeping the Mustangs alive in an elimination game against the hometown team and 16-time national champions.
After wiggling his way out of a first-inning jam in which he walked the first two batters he faced, Scott started posting gooseggs with big pitches and help from his teammates. He retired the Warriors in order just twice, induced four inning-ending double plays, and stranded four runners in scoring position en route to a five-hit shutout through eight frames.
Every one of those zeroes on the scoreboard was needed because Warrior starter Seth Haehl was just as effective as Scott, at least through the opening five innings when he limited the Mustangs to just two hits.
That changed in the top of the sixth, however, when the Mustangs tallied the game’s first run with some clutch hitting. With one out, Steve Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) ripped a double to the gap in left-center field, advanced to third on a groundout, and scored on designated hitter Joe Riddle’s (Bakersfield, CA) rbi single up the middle.
The Mustangs chased Haehl in the seventh but couldn’t add to their lead until the eighth when they doubled their advantage without recording a hit. Jon Popadics (Boise, ID) reached on a throwing error to lead off the frame, moved to second base on a groundout, raced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Chris Talley’s (Simi Valley, CA) sacrifice fly to center field, giving the Mustangs a 2-0 lead.
Scott produced a shutdown frame in the eighth, helped by another inning-ending double play, and went to the ninth with a two-run lead and the hope of moving the Mustangs another game closer to a championship.
That pursuit did not start well when the righthander hit the first batter of the inning and walked the second. A sacrifice bunt moved both runners up 90 feet and then Kyle Knigge tied the game with a two-run base hit up the middle. Junior Tommy Kister (Saugus, CA) relieved Scott at that point and registered one out before Shirley’s heroics ended the game and the Mustangs’ season.
Scott was charged with all three runs in his 8 1/3-inning performance, allowing six hits and striking out one. The Mustangs rapped out just six hits with Riddle collecting two of them.