Costa Mesa, Calif. — Max Maitland hit a grand slam to lead The Master’s College to an 8-2 opening-game win but the Mustangs couldn’t complete the sweep when Vanguard won the nightcap 5-2 Saturday afternoon as the two clubs split a GSAC doubleheader.
In spite of the split, the Mustangs (3-3 GSAC, 9-6 overall) took two of three from the Lions over the weekend and drew within one game of first-place Vanguard and San Diego Christian.
In the opener, the Mustangs took a while to get going but once they did they put the game away in decisive fashion. Trailing 1-0 after three innings, the club got a fourth-inning, leadoff walk from Michael Sexton (Puyallup, WA), who advanced to second base on a David Sheaffer (Mt. Airy, NC) single to left field, moved to third on a Tyler Krahn (Abbotsford, BC, Canada) sacrifice bunt, and scored the tying run on a Matt Janes’ (Riverside, CA) infield single.
Mustang starter Brad Lohse (Chico, CA), who had allowed a second-inning run to the Lions, followed with two straight shutdown frames that set the stage for the TMC offense in the top of the sixth.
With one out in that frame, Sheaffer reached on an infield single, stole second base, moved to third on another Krahn sacrifice bunt, and scored the go-ahead run on Jonah Jarrard’s (Rosemead, CA) infield base hit. Justyn Lee (Woodland Hills, CA) ran for Jarrard and promptly swiped second base. Eventually, he was joined on the bases by Janes and Aaron Shackelford, (Murrieta, CA), who drew two-out walks.
Then Maitland, who has ignited so many run-scoring innings in his freshman season, stepped to the plate and finished off the frame with a shot over the fence for a grand slam and his first career home run. Suddenly, the Mustangs had a 6-1 lead.
Lohse gave up a run in the last of the sixth and nothing else in his final two innings of work. Improving to 2-2, the senior righthander scattered eight hits over a season-high eight innings and struck out two while walking no one.
The Mustangs finished off the win with two more runs in the top of the ninth, getting run-scoring singles from Krahn and Jarrard to close out an 11-hit attack. Sheaffer and Jarrard led the way with three hits apiece while Maitland had two.
The offense wasn’t so prolific in the second game. The Mustangs managed just five hits and scored both of their runs in the third.
The big story, though, was the way the Lions treated Mustang starter Conner Menez. The junior lefthander, who made his living last year in nightcaps and won last Saturday’s second game against Hope International, didn’t fare so well against Vanguard.
Right from the start, the Lions went after Menez, nicking him for three runs in the last of the first inning.
The Mustangs got two of those back in the top of the third the free way when Sexton and Jarrard walked with the bases loaded, trimming the Lion lead to 3-2.
However, the Lions got to Menez again in the last of the fourth, using a walk, a wild pitch, a groundout, and a sacrifice fly to extend their advantage to two runs.
That was Menez’ last inning and the Lions added their final run against Danny Lutz in the sixth. In his four innings of work, Menez gave up four runs on a like number of hits, and walked an uncharacteristic three.
Meanwhile, after the Mustang offense scored twice in the third, it managed just one hit the rest of the way and that came in the seventh when TMC sent the potential tying run to the plate only to have a groundout end the game.
Sheaffer and Maitland had two hits apiece in the nightcap and went 5-9 and 4-9, respectively, on the afternoon.