Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
One day last season, Monte Brooks (pictured above) grabbed a bat and walked to home plate in the middle of practice. He planned to hit a home run.
“It’s easy,” shortstop Aaron Shackelford recalls the longtime Master’s baseball coach teasing.
Brooks needed no warm-up cuts. The former Padres farmhand required only five pitches to lift a ball over the fence, bouncing it off the clubhouse behind left field.
Anyone who’s ever played for Brooks has a story, and this is Shackelford’s.
For more than two decades, Brooks has guided the program with memorable humor and a spiritual focus, and Saturday he hit another milestone.
The Mustangs beat San Diego Christian 4-1 and 3-2 in Lakeside to complete a four-game sweep of the Hawks and move into a share of first place in GSAC standings.
Saturday’s second win was also the 700th of Brooks’ career at Master’s.
“He really loves his team,” said catcher Anthony Lepre. “He wants the best for us, but most of all he helps us be more like Christ.”
Lepre continued his power spree Saturday, homering in the second game to give him four in the series and 18 for the season. TMU’s single-season record is 19, a mark that’s sure to fall in the 19-plus games that remain.
Lepre’s two-run blast in the first inning stood out in another, less appealing, way. It was the Mustangs’ only hit of the game as they manufactured a run without the benefit of a hit in the sixth and held on in the seventh.
Starter Kyle Adkins left runners at first and third in the seventh to close out his third complete game of the year. He’s 6-1.
In the series, Lepre went 9-for-15, driving in 10 runs and positioning himself as a strong candidate for NAIA Player of the Week.
“It’s like he can’t miss the barrel when he steps into the box,” said Eric Williams, TMU’s starter in Saturday’s early game.
Williams was excellent through six innings of work. The senior righty surrendered three hits and one run, contributing to one of the best series of the season for TMU’s staff.
Williams was aggressive, attacking hitters down in the zone and locating his off-speed pitches. Afterward, he was complimentary of the program’s all-time winningest coach. Brooks is 700-475-1.
“He simplifies the game for each individual,” Williams said of Brooks, who took the reins at TMU in 1997. “He strives to make smart players who are lockdown fundamentally. Above all, he maintains a focus on glorifying Christ.”
The Mustangs (19-9-1, 12-6 GSAC) totaled eight hits in support of Williams, only the second time in eight games that the club hadn’t reached double digits in that category.
They know, though, that if they’re going to make a run at a Golden State Athletic Conference title (Saturday’s wins moved them into a share of first place with Vanguard and Hope International), the pitching staff will need to replicate its work over these two days.
“We were all in attack mode,” said Adkins, “trusting our defense and commanding our pitches.”
The Mustangs have won 10 of their last 12 games. This last one standing above the rest.
“He’s been a great teacher,” Shackelford, whose RBI double helped create space in game one Saturday, said of Brooks. “The drills and practices we go through everyday have made me the player I am today.”
And there’s the humor.
“Coach always has great stories from his playing days,” said Shackelford. “Great storyteller. I will always remember his hilarious stories.”
Here are the box scores for Game 1 and Game 2.