Lancaster, Calif. — Parlaying an overwhelming offense with a pitching staff that threw shutout ball for most of the game, The Master’s College dismantled the University of Antelope Valley 15-4 Tuesday afternoon at The Hangar.
It was the second time in less than a month that the Mustangs beat the Pioneers, doing so by a 5-2 count on February 23. The Mustangs ran their non-conference record to 10-4 and improved to 17-9 overall.
Unfazed by facing Pioneer ace Ayrton Costa (7-1 with a 0.91 ERA entering the game), the Mustangs initiated their 18-hit attack in the first inning when they rapped out a couple of singles before stranding two.
They left two more aboard in the second but before doing so they used four hits and a Pioneer error to score three times to take a lead they would never relinquish. The Pioneer miscue allowed David Sheaffer (Mt. Airy, NC) to score the game’s first run and Collin Nyenhuis (Vista, CA) and Max Maitland (Murrieta, CA) followed with run-scoring singles to give the Mustangs a 3-0 lead.
After leaving the bases loaded in the third inning, the Mustangs went back to work in the fourth, making it 4-0 on one swing of the bat as Michael Sexton (Puyallup, WA) slugged his eighth homer of the year to right field.
Two innings later, the Mustangs continued their methodical onslaught, scoring twice more to extend the advantage to 6-0. The big hit of the sixth inning was a two-run single off the bat of Aaron Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) that plated Sexton, who had tripled, and Nick Covello (Skillman, NJ), who had walked.
Meanwhile, the pitching-by-committee strategy employed by head coach Monte Brooks was paying incremental dividends in shutting down the Pioneers. Ace starter Jason Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) tossed the first two innings, allowing just one hit. He was followed to the mound by Conner Menez (Ormond Beach, FL), who duplicated Karkenny’s effort with two innings of shutout ball.
Scott Savage (Torrance, CA) went to the hill next and kept the Pioneers off the scoreboard with two more innings of scoreless pitching.
Enjoying a 6-0 lead through six innings, the Mustangs blew the game open in their final three at-bats. In the seventh, Pearson Good’s one-out, pinch-hit single to left field brought home Jonah Jarrard (Rosemead, CA), who had doubled down the left-field line to lead off the frame.
After reliever Aaron Alexander (Concord, CA) hurled a scoreless seventh, the Mustangs went to work in the eighth and left no doubt with a five-run frame. Caleb Menez’ (Ormond Beach, FL) fielder’s choice scored Eric Williams (Castaic, CA), who had doubled, with the inning’s first run and then Nyenhuis capped off the frame with a grand slam to left field, extending the club’s lead to 12-0. It was Nyenhuis’ eighth home run of the season, tying Sexton for the team lead.
The Mustangs weren’t through quite yet. However, before they came up in the ninth to score their final runs of the afternoon, the Pioneers finally broke through, scoring four runs on four hits in the last of the eighth.
In the top of the ninth, the Mustangs finished off a prolific day at the play with Brandon Van Horn (Tujunga, CA) driving in Ethan Brandt (Coeur d’Alene) on a single to left field and John Brazil (Potter Valley, CA) adding a two-run single that scored Van Horn and Covello.
Sexton’s three hits paced the Mustangs while Nyenhuis (5 rbi), Van Horn, Sheaffer, and Jarrard added two apiece.
Although Karkenny threw just two innings, he was awarded the victory and improved to 6-2.
After playing four games in as many days, the Mustangs will get a couple of days off before resuming GSAC play this weekend at Biola in La Mirada. The clubs will open their three-game series with a single contest on Friday followed by a doubleheader on Saturday.