Aaron Shackelford drove in the tying run and then scored on an error to rally The Master’s University past Menlo 9-7 in an elimination game at the GSAC Tournament Monday evening.
The furious finish, coming just hours after a 12-3 shellacking of Biola, kept the Mustangs (32-21) in the tourney mix and knocked out the Oaks, who had beaten the Mustangs in a first-round game Sunday. The Mustangs now move on to face Vanguard, a loser earlier in the day to top-seeded Hope International, tomorrow in another elimination contest.
Down 7-5 going to the top of the ninth, the Mustangs were down to their final out when Michael Sexton walked to load the bases, joining Ethan Brandt and Moises Garcia. Shackelford then stepped to the plate and rapped a single up the middle to plate Brandt and Garcia, and when the ball went under the glove of Menlo centerfielder Jordan Getzelman and all the way to the fence, courtesy runner Ricky Sottile scored from first base and Shackelford circled the bases to catapult the Mustangs in front 9-7.
Mustang reliever Danny Lutz (1-1), who had allowed the Oaks to score two go-ahead runs in the last of the seventh, closed out the victory in the ninth, getting the final three batters after Getzelman led off with a single.
The Mustangs’ dramatic rally wasn’t their only one of the evening. Down 5-1 after four innings, the club hadn’t done much against Oaks’ starter Andrew Merken. They had nicked the Menlo hurler for a run in the second inning on a Caleb Menez rbi double but that was it through Merken’s five-inning stint and a scoreless sixth thrown by reliever Kevin George.
However, in the seventh they got to George for four runs to tie the game. A Max Maitland groundout plated Menez with the inning’s first run and when Jonah Jarrard singled in Brandt, the Mustangs had drawn within 5-3.
Moments later, the Mustangs drew even as Sexton crashed a two-run homer to right field, scoring Jarrard ahead of him. It was Sexton’s club-high-tying 14th roundtripper of the year, his second of the day, and the seventh in his past five games.
It didn’t take long for the Oaks to answer, snapping the tie when Julian Jarrard homered off Lutz to lead off the last of the seventh and then adding another run on a Dean Aliamus base hit for the 7-5 advantage.
All that did was set the stage for the Mustangs’ furious, ninth-inning rally. That made up for a tough day for a pitching staff that is starting to feel the effects of elimination games. Starter Scott Savage lasted just three innings and gave up four runs on four hits. He was followed to the hill by Aiden Stout, who surrendered an unearned run in two innings of work. Lutz, the beneficiary of the Mustangs’ rally, went the final four innings, allowing two runs and striking out five.
Seven Mustangs had at least one hit in the club’s 12-hit attack with Jarrard going 3-5 and Shackelford 2-4.
Now, the Mustangs turn their attention to Vanguard, a club that took four of six from TMU during the regular season. The two clubs will square off at 11:00am at Canada College in Redwood City. The winner moves on to face No. 1 seed Hope International later in the afternoon while the loser’s season comes to an end.