Ryan Bricker bunted in the go-ahead run in the opener and walked with the bases loaded to provide the winner in the nightcap while Scott Savage pitched his way to a save and a win as The Master’s University swept Arizona Christian 8-7 and 11-9 Saturday afternoon.
The Mustangs’ third sweep of the season and their second in GSAC play evened their overall record at 17-17 while improving to 8-10 in the conference.
Bricker’s bunt single in the top of the eighth inning in the first game plated Moises Garcia with the go-ahead run that was part of a four-run rally to put the Mustangs ahead to stay. Aaron Shackelford followed with a run-scoring single to give the Mustangs an 8-6 advantage.
Savage made his first entrance of the day in the last half of the inning and would have escaped unscathed if not for his throwing error that allowed the Firestorm to score an unearned that pulled them within one run. The junior righthander got in a jam in the ninth when the Firestorm put runners on first and second but Savage induced a game-ending flyout to preserve the win for fellow reliever Aiden Stout (2-0) and notch his staff-high third save of the season.
Stout went from goat to winner after he allowed the Firestorm to score four times in the last half of the seventh inning as ACU turned a two-run deficit into a similar lead, 6-4. That rally handed a no-decision to Mustang starter Aaron Alexander, who had allowed two runs through five innings and was in line to gain his sixth win of the year before the seventh frame ensued.
The Mustangs had given Alexander four runs to work with before he threw a pitch, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning. Max Maitland stroked a lead-off single, moved to second base on a Shackelford base hit, and scored one out later on Jonah Jarrard’s single through the left side. Shackelford raced to third on Jarrard’s run-scoring hit and scored moments later when courtesy runner Ricky Sottile was thrown out trying to steal second base.
David Sheaffer then made it 3-0, clubbing his fourth home run of the season over the left field fence. Caleb Menez kept the inning alive with a single to center field and then sped around the bases to score the inning’s final run when Garcia ripped a double to left-center field.
Alexander stranded a runner at third base in each of the first two innings before the Firestorm halved the deficit with two runs in the last of the third.
Fast-forwarding to the eighth when the Mustangs mounted their game-changing rally, Garcia singled in Sottile, who was running for Jarrard, and Menez scored the tying run (6-6) on an ACU error, setting up Bricker’s eventual game-winner.
The Mustangs rapped out a season-high 15 hits in the opener with seven batters collecting two hits apiece.
There was more of that offense in the nightcap when the Mustangs had to rally from a couple of deficits to win in extra innings.
The bats came out early as TMU parlayed three hits and a Firestorm miscue into a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Once again, Maitland ignited the offense, lacing a lead-off single through the right side. One out later, he advanced to third base on an ACU error and scored on a Sheaffer base hit. Menez capped the frame with an rbi single up the middle that plated Jarrard for a 2-0 lead.
That lead lasted all of one inning as the Firestorm went after Mustang starter Jason Karkenny in the last of the second, roughing up the senior righthander to the tune of five runs.
The Mustangs got one of those runs back in the top of third when Garcia was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring home Jarrard, who had led off with a single.
The Firestorm responded with three more runs in the last of the third off reliever Nate Bonsell, using a fielder’s choice and a two-run double to forge an 8-3 lead.
Unfazed, the Mustangs struck back in the top of the fourth, scoring four runs with two outs. With the bases loaded, Dalton deVries singled in Maitland, who had singled, and Shackelford, who had been hit by a pitch, and when the Firestorm rightfielder misplayed deVries’ hit, Jarrard scored as well, cutting the deficit to 8-6. Then pinch-hitter Pearson Good capped the outburst with a single that plated deVries to draw the Mustangs within one run.
The runfest continued in the last of the fourth when the Firestorm extended their lead to 9-7 on a lead-off homer. That chased Bonsell and proved to be ACU’s final run of the game. Savage would see to that.
Over the next five innings, including the fourth, Savage blanked the Firestorm on four hits and struck out seven. He worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh that forced extra innings and notched his first win of the campaign in style, striking out a Firestorm batter for the final out.
His teammates made him a winner (1-3), scoring two runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game and two more in the eighth that produced the game’s final runs.
In the sixth, Menez singled in deVries, who had doubled with one out, and Matt Janes tied the game at 9-9 with a two-out single that plated courtesy runner Sottile.
Two innings later, Bricker’s bases-loaded walk plated courtesy runner Eric Williams with the go-ahead run and Maitland followed with a single that gave Savage a two-run cushion.
That was Maitland’s sixth single of the afternoon and his 4-6 effort in the nightcap paced a 16-hit attack. deVreis and Menez (5-9 on the day) had three hits apiece and Jarrard (4-9 combined) had two more.
Winning their first GSAC series since late February, the Mustangs have some momentum heading into the final third of the regular season. They take a break from conference play this Tuesday and start a nine-game homestand against Shepherd University in a game that starts at 3:00pm at Lou Herwaldt Stadium.