Game Recap By Don Gilmore, TMU Assistant SID
Double-header sweeps are sweet.
Especially when they come against ranked conference opponents.
Like Saturday’s victories over No. 15 Vanguard that capped a remarkable turnaround for the Mustangs after a bleak start a day earlier.
The 7-2 and 12-4 wins over the Lions represented TMU’s first GSAC sweep of the season and knocked Vanguard out of first place in the conference.
The Mustangs are now 12-8-1 overall and 5-5 in the GSAC, where they trail first-place Hope International by three games.
“We played smart, we played clean, and we beat a very, very good ball club,” said TMU coach Monte Brooks.
The Mustangs lost 11-6 in the series opener on Friday but rebounded to beat the Lions 7-0 in the day’s second game behind Robert Winslow‘s complete-game shutout.
Master’s received more good starting pitching in Saturday’s opener.
Sophomore Caleb Jaime spotted the Lions two runs in their initial at-bat and then proceeded to shut out Vanguard over the next seven innings.
The right-hander struck out a season-high nine over eight innings and improved to 3-0.
His teammates carved into the two-run deficit in the third when freshman Will Batz‘s groundout plated Ryan Bricker with the club’s first run.
Two innings later, TMU’s bats took over and created a lead that wouldn’t be relinquished.
With two outs, Nick Tuttle was hit by a pitch and Aaron Shackelford drew a walk.
Up stepped senior transfer Anthony Lepre, who turned on a Garrett Molnar pitch and hit it over the left-center field fence, putting the Mustangs ahead 4-2.
It was Lepre’s 11th homer of the season and second in as many games.
It was also the Mustangs’ last hit of the game (they produced only three), but it didn’t keep them from more run production.
In the sixth inning, the Mustangs put the game away in unusual fashion, scoring three more times without the benefit of a hit.
They sandwiched bases-loaded walks to Batz and Lepre around a run-scoring error to extend the advantage to 7-2.
In game two, the Mustangs once again dug out of an early hole.
The Lions belted two home runs in the third inning to take a 3-0 lead, and it took some time for the Mustang offense to get on track. But once it did, it was relentless.
Still down three going to the fourth, the Mustangs evened the game on a Roy Verdejo base hit that scored Lepre, a Ryan Bricker single that plated Kameron Quitno, and an error that brought home Max Maitland.
That momentum carried over into the next frame when the Mustangs sent 13 men to the plate, scoring eight times on six hits.
Shackelford ignited the offensive fireworks with a two-run blast to right-center field, his team-leading 13th home run of the campaign, snapping the three-all tie. It was the program-leading 44th homer of his career.
Quitno doubled in another run, Batz walked with the bases loaded, Tuttle hit a two-run double, Shackelford drove in another run with a bunt single, and Lepre capped the uprising with an RBI single.
Shackelford’s three-RBI inning gave him a team-leading 34 for the season.
Bricker’s sacrifice fly in the sixth tacked on the Mustangs’ last run of the afternoon.
The Shackelford-Lepre-Verdejo-Quitno foursome went a combined 11-for-16 with six RBIs in the game.
Here are the box scores for Game 1 and Game 2.
The sweep sets up a big showdown next weekend when Hope International invades Placerita Canyon for a four-game series that starts on Friday morning at 11.