Since his debut in 2014, Jason Karkenny has been known more for his right arm than anything else. Along the way he’s thrown a perfect game and become the winningest pitcher in program history.
In his senior season, though, he’s added another weapon to his arsenal: the bat. On Tuesday afternoon that was on display as he drove in a career-high four runs to lead The Master’s University past Shepherd University 15-3 at Lou Herwaldt Stadium.
The non-conference win was the club’s third in a row and lifted its record to 18-17.
Karkenny, who’s hitting .311, didn’t waste any time in his most productive day at the plate, singling in two runs as part of a three-run first frame for the Mustangs. His base hit plated courtesy runner Ricky Sottile and Jonah Jarrard. Sottile was running for David Sheaffer, whose single had driven in leadoff man Max Maitland with the game’s first run.
Mustang starter Nate Bonsell, who set the Thundering Herd down in order in the first and stranded two on base an inning later, was on his way to a scoreless third before a two-out error allowed Shepherd to score twice, closing the gap to 3-2.
In the last half of the inning, the Mustangs made it a 4-2 game, capitalizing on a Herd error to double the advantage. Sottile, running for Sheaffer, who had walked with one out, stole second base, went to third on a flyout, and scored on the Shepherd miscue.
That two-run margin stayed in place until the fifth inning when the Herd made it a one-run game again, roughing up Bonsell with three straight singles to close within 4-3.
The Mustangs struck back quickly and decisively in the last half of the frame, scoring three times to go up 7-3. Jarrard drew a leadoff walk and one out later Dalton deVries slammed his fourth home run of the season over the right field fence. Caleb Menez followed with a walk and Matt Janes brought him home with a two-out double down the right field line.
An inning later, the Mustangs created even more space, scoring four more runs. A Sheaffer sacrifice fly scored the inning’s first run, then Karkenny doubled to right-center field to drive in two more, and Janes’ single up the middle produced the final run of the inning for an 11-3 advantage.
While all that offense was being generated, the pitching-by-committee was working just right. Following Bonsell’s (3-4) departure in the fifth after surrendering just one earned run while striking out nine, three Mustang hurlers combined for 4 1/3 innings of three-hit, shutout ball. Grant Collins went 1 1/3 innings, Nick Brooks followed with two innings, and Eric Williams finished up with one inning.
The club capped its highest-scoring output of the season in the eighth, taking advantage of three walks and four wild pitches to push across the game’s final four runs. Ethan Brandt led off with a pinch-hit single and eventually scored on a wild pitch, and Jason Bock, Christian Sarabia, and Luke Halverson all scored after reaching base on walks. Pearson Good drove in Bock with a sacrifice fly while Ryan Bricker’s run-scoring single plated Halverson with the game’s final run.
Karkenny, Maitland, and Janes had two hits apiece to pace the club’s 12-hit attack.
After running their non-conference record to 10-7, the Mustangs resume GSAC play this weekend when they welcome San Diego Christian to Placerita Canyon for a three-game series. Friday’s opener begins at 3:00pm at Herwaldt Stadium.