By Mason Nesbitt, Sports Information Director
In light of two days and 25 innings of mostly forgettable baseball, Master’s catcher Ryan Bricker summed up the weekend the best he could.
“It’s better that this happened now,” Bricker said Saturday after the Mustangs fell, 8-5, to Westmont College in the Golden State Athletic Conference finale at Russ Carr Field.
The Mustangs dropped all three games in the series and fell to 24-23 overall and 16-20 in GSAC play. They will play in the conference tournament later this month, having qualified last week, and they hope to play better than they did in Santa Barbara.
Westmont (33-14, 25-11 in GSAC) scored three runs in Saturday’s fifth inning to take its first lead of the game at 6-5. The Warriors added two insurance runs in the sixth and held on to win for the 18th time in their last 22 conference games.
For the second straight game, Master’s stormed out of the gates.
Max Maitland, back in the leadoff spot for the first time in five games, doubled off the base of the wall in right center.
Bricker bunted his teammate to third, and Aaron Shackelford ripped a single into right to score Maitland.
Then Preston White turned on one, the ball bouncing off the street abutting left field. It scored Shackelford and gave the Mustangs a 3-0 lead in the top of the first for the second straight game. Again, it didn’t last, Westmont answering in familiar fashion.
Warrior Henry Hedeen turned on a Robert Winslow offering in the bottom of the first and deposited it over the right field fence. A Westmont fan hollered, “Don’t pitch to him.” White, in right field, pounded the wall as he watched it go. It was Hedeen’s third home run in as many games. It drove in three runs.
Master’s did not fold.
With two outs in the third, Kameron Quitno hit an RBI double. An inning later, Bricker produced a two-out hit to drive in a run.
Meanwhile, Winslow found a groove.
After Hedeen’s home run, Winslow retired 12 of 13 batters, including the first two outs of the fifth inning. But then Scott Singh lifted a high drive to left field. Nick Tuttle ran back to the wall and jumped. It wasn’t coming back. Two runs scored. It was 5-all, and Westmont was just getting started.
“Coach always talks about how the big inning is what does it,” Bricker said. “If you get a big inning, you can usually win a ball game. It seems like they had multiple big innings — like they would feed off each other.”
The Mustangs will enter the GSAC tournament as the No. 5 seed. Last year, Master’s won the tournament as the No. 4 seed, going on to advance to the NAIA World Series for the second straight year.
This year’s conference tourney opens April 30 at Vanguard University. TMU’s opponent will be Hope International, a team the Mustangs won four out of six against this season and six out of eight against dating back to last year.
First, the Mustangs will host Bethesda University for a non-conference double-header at TMU on Tuesday (1 p.m. start), with Marymount California set to visit on Wednesday (3 p.m.). Brooks said he likes the idea of game action before the GSAC tournament.
“We think it’s good,” Brooks said.