Combining for 27 on 29 hits while limiting Simpson to three total runs, The Master’s College blasted the host Red Hawks Saturday afternoon in Redding, winning 13-1 and 14-2 to sweep a doubleheader and a season-opening weekend series.
After scoring nine runs on ten hits in their 9-1 win on Friday, highlighted by a four-run first inning, it took a little longer for the 12th-ranked Mustangs (3-0) to break out in the opener on Saturday but when they did they left little doubt about the outcome.
The Mustangs stranded a quartet of runners through the first three frames as Simpson’s Cameron Imhoff kept them off the scoreboard. He couldn’t do so in the fourth, though, when Tyler Krahn (Abbotsford, BC, Canda) walked with one out, stole second base, advanced to third on a Sam Robison (San Juan Capistrano, CA) infield single, and scored the game’s first run on Josh Brown’s (Valencia, CA) sacrifice bunt.
It didn’t take long for the the Red Hawks to respond as they sandwiched a pair of singles around a Dalton Thompson (Riverside, CA) balk in the last of the fourth to knot the game at 1-1.
When both teams failed to score in the fifth inning, this one was setting up as a pitcher’s duel. That proved to be an illusion, however, as the Mustangs laced out seven hits and took advantage of two Red Hawks to score 10 times in the top of the sixth. The big hits of the inning were a Jon Popadics (Boise, ID) two-run homer to left field and Brown’s ringing, bases-clearing double to the same field. After 14 Mustangs had stepped to the plate, they owned an 11-1 lead.
That easily secured the win for Thompson in his second collegiate start and the sophomore hurler went out in style by setting the Red Hawks down in order in his sixth and final inning of work. Thompson allowed six hits and struck out three in his stint.
The Mustangs finished off their first-game assault in the top of the seventh when senior Ryan Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) rapped a two-run, bases-loaded single to center field, plating Matt Janes (Riverside, CA) and Anthony Leal (San Juan Capistrano, CA) for a 13-1 advantage.
Senior catcher Spencer Toth (Asheville, NC) came out from behind the plate and combined with freshmen pitchers Conner Menez (Hollister, CA) and Aaron Alexander (Concord, CA) to blank the Red Hawks over the final three innings.
Brown, who drove in a game-high four runs, and Popadics paced the Mustangs’ 15-hit attack with four hits apiece while Robison, Steve Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA), and Caleb Halverson (Temple City, CA) had two each.
The nightcap featured more of the same at the plate, on the mound, and in the field.
After senior righthander Tucker Richardson (Modesto, CA) spotted the Red Hawks a run in their first at-bat, the Mustangs struck back with a vengeance in the second inning, scoring five runs to go ahead for good. Robison plated Krahn with a game-tying single to center field, stole second base and raced home on Brown’s tie-breaking single to left field. Later in the inning, Popadics rapped a two-run double to left field and then scored when Karkenny’s one-out double capped off the outburst and gave the Mustangs a 5-1 lead.
An inning later, they extended the advantage to five runs when Robison led off with a bunt base hit, went to second on a Brown sacrifice, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and sped home on Leal’s sacrifice fly to center field.
In the fourth inning, the Mustangs put the game out of reach and Leal was just warming up. Starting the second game in left field, the junior laced a two-out, two-run single to center field, highlighting a four-run frame that made it a 10-1 game. Joe Riddle (Bakersfield, CA) ignited the inning with a sacrifice fly that scored Popadics who had drawn a lead-off walk. Steve Karkenny scored the second run of the inning on a Red Hawk error.
The Mustangs capped off a prolific afternoon in the sixth inning and Leal was the primary producer. With two outs, he walloped a three-run homer over the left field fence, scoring Shackelford and Justin Tilton (Palmdale, CA) who had led off the inning with consecutive singles. They added their final run of the day later in the inning when Joshua Swartz (Overland Park, KS) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, bringing home Caleb Whitley (Carlsbad, CA).
Leal’s career game featured two hits, including his roundtripper, and six rbi. Robison made it a five-hit afternoon with a 3-3 showing while Karkenny went 2-4. Somewhat overshadowed but not unnoticed was the Mustangs’ sparkling play in the field where they committed no errors in this game and the previous two.
In the seven-inning nightcap, Richardson picked up the win after going four innings of three-hit, four-strikeout ball. Sophomore Justyn Lee (Woodland Hills, CA) followed with one scoreless inning, Brown allowed one run in his only inning of work, and Karkenny closed out the game with a perfect seventh.
Returning home to Southern California, the Mustangs open GSAC play next weekend when they host Biola in a three-game series on Reese Field. The opener is scheduled for Friday at 2:00pm.