By Mason Nesbitt, Sports Information Director
Even after Roy Verdejo blasted the first home run of his Mustang career, a three-run shot that pulled Master’s ahead in the fifth, TMU still had to survive Thursday’s ninth inning — against a nationally ranked opponent, no less.
Sophomore Caleb Jaime, however, has been in tight spots seemingly since he stepped on campus, so a bases-loaded, no-out jam, even of his own making, wasn’t worth fretting over.
The righty recorded a strikeout and induced a double play to seal the Mustangs’ 9-6 win over the University of Antelope Valley at TMU.
Master’s improved to 2-1-1, while the No. 7-ranked Pioneers, who appeared at last season’s NAIA World Series, fell to 1-3.
Kameron Quitno scooped up the game-ending ground ball, stepped on third and fired across the diamond for the double-play. Jaime allowed no runs in two innings of work.
“It does help having experience, being in there before, having the coaches trust me in those situations” said Jaime, who recorded a 2.25 ERA in 32 innings as a freshman. “You just have to go in and get it done no matter what.”
Verdejo’s inaugural homer at Herwaldt Stadium was a timely one.
The Mustangs fell behind 3-0 in the second inning before rallying to tie in the bottom half of the frame. Antelope Valley inched ahead with an RBI groundout in the fifth.
Then Verdejo launched a breaking ball over the left field fence, plating Max Maitland and Aaron Shackelford. The junior compared the weight he felt lifted off his shoulders to what he experienced after his first hit as a Mustang. “It takes a load off so you can stay more relaxed,” he said.
Said Jaime, “Roy rakes in practice and in games. It was cool to see him reap some of what he sows.”
Jaime’s second save of the year came in relief of Kyle Adkins, who was impressive in his collegiate pitching debut last week against Marymount California University. Adkins went 5.1 innings Thursday for his first win.
Quitno pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, coming on for Adkins in the sixth and stranding a pair of runners in a show of resolve that mirrored TMU’s offense.
Trailing by three, Nick Tuttle drilled a double off the wall in left to plate the Mustangs’ first run in the second inning. Jeremiah Farris and Will Batz recorded the first RBIs of their Mustang careers later in the inning to even the score.