Santa Clarita, Calif. — Brandon Van Horn has played in only five games this season and has made his presence felt in a couple of those but none as important as Monday afternoon when his 10th-inning, bases-loaded single drove in the winning run in an 8-7 victory over Westmont at Lou Herwaldt Stadium.
The walk-off hit enabled the Mustangs to salvage one game of a three-game series against the 16th-ranked Warriors, improving their record to 16-9 overall and 7-5 in the GSAC where they trail first-place Westmont by three games.
Van Horn (Tujunga, CA) got his chance to win the game for the Mustangs in the last of the tenth after three of his teammates took advantage of Warrior reliever Sam Sheehan’s wildness. Max Maitland (Murrieta, CA) laced a one-out single through the left side, advanced to second base when Michael Sexton (Puyallup, WA) drew a walk, and both runners moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch.
Nick Covello (Skillman, NJ) was walked intentionally to load the bases, setting up a force play at any base. Van Horn spoiled that strategy, however, plating Maitland with the winning run.
The game-winning hit rescued the Mustangs from a cruel fate after they let a 7-1 lead slip away.
They built that advantage by scoring two runs in the second inning, three more in the third, and two in the fourth.
In the second, the Mustangs jumped out on top 2-0 after Jonah Jarrard (Rosemead, CA) and Tyler Krahn (Abbotsford, BC, Canada) swatted back-to-back, two-out, solo homers. It was Jarrard’s first roundtripper as a Mustang and Krahn’s third of the season.
An inning later, Jarrard was in the middle of another uprising as the Mustangs strung together three hits and capitalized on a Westmont error to forge a 5-0 lead. With one out, Covello reached on an infield hit and moved to second base on a Van Horn single through the right side. After David Sheaffer (Mt. Airy, NC) popped out, Aaron Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) walked to load the bases and Jarrard clutched up with a two-run single, and when Westmont’s third baseman committed an error, Shackelford raced around the bases to give the Mustangs a 5-0 cushion.
Westmont was scoreless to that point because Mustang starter Brad Lohse (Chico, CA) was flat-out dominant. The senior righthander retired the first 11 batters he faced until a two-out, solo homer by Alex Bush gave the Warriors their initial run.
The Mustangs answered back in powerful fashion in the bottom of the fourth when Sexton and Covello clubbed two-out solo homers. It was Sexton’s seventh blast of the year, tying Collin Nyenhuis (Vista, CA) for the team lead, while Covello’s homer was his fifth of the campaign.
In the top of the fifth, the Warriors started to solve Lohse. Rapping out five hits, they scored twice to close to 7-3.
Following a scoreless sixth, the Warriors went to work in the seventh, stringing together five hits off Lohse and scoring four times to knot the game at 7-all. Lohse was relieved by Danny Lutz (Phoenix, AZ) who got the final two outs of the frame.
The junior righthander wound up going the final 3 2/3 innings, striking out two and walking no one while keeping the game even until Van Horn, who had three hits, won it in the last of the 10th. That gave Lutz (1-2) his first win as a Mustang.
Jarrard joined Van Horn with three hits to pace the Mustangs’ 15-hit attack while Maitland, Sexton, and Covello had two each.
The club will have no time to revel in the victory since it goes back to work on Tuesday, traveling to Lancaster to play the University of Antelope Valley.