By Don Gilmore, Assistant Sports Information Director
“Records are made to be broken.”
Or so the saying goes.
If you happened to be in attendance at Saturday’s TMU-Bethesda double-header, you would have had to agree.
In the fifth inning of game two, Max Maitland set a new Master’s all-time hits record. One batter later, Aaron Shackelford hit his third home run of the day, giving him 23 for the year, a new program single-season record.
It was the high point of another sweep as the Mustangs beat the Flames 10-0 and 14-7.
“It is incredible for me to be a part of a group of players who displayed wonderful performances, set single (season) records, and career records in one weekend,” said head coach Monte Brooks.
The victories ran the squad’s winning streak to 15 games, the longest in over a decade.
In the opener, Anthony Lepre hit a two-run homer in the first inning. It was the senior’s 22nd blast of the season, extending what was then a single-season program record.
Three innings later, Shackelford (3-4, two RBIs) walloped a two-run shot over the right field fence, giving him 21 for the year. The Mustangs (27-9-1) led 7-0 lead after four innings.
A day earlier, the senior duo had combined for three homers.
In between the long balls, freshman Will Batz (3-3) singled in a run in the third and scored later on Kameron Quitno’s two-run base hit.
During all of this scoring Eric Williams was keeping Bethesda off the scoreboard. The senior right-hander, who won his third consecutive decision to improve to 4-3, blanked the Flames over five innings, scattering three hits.
Sophomore right-hander Cameron Phelps preserved the shutout with two innings of three-strikeout relief.
In the fifth, the Mustangs tacked on their final three runs, the highlight of the frame coming on Max Maitland’s two-run single that made it a 10-0 game.
The senior’s base hit was the 254th of his career, pulling him to within one of the program’s all-time record.
The stage was set for record-breaking celebrations.
It didn’t take long in the nightcap for the jubilation to begin.
After spotting the Flames a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, the Mustangs bounced back in the last half of the frame and, fittingly, Shackelford was the first responder.
He crushed a Nathan Dominguez pitch over the right field fence, a two-run shot that drew the Mustangs within a run and pulled him into a tie for the team lead (22) with Lepre.
The highlights kept coming.
In the second inning, Maitland tied the career hits record set by Steve Karkenny (2012-15) with a triple that tied the game.
One batter later, Lepre put the Mustangs ahead 4-3 with a sacrifice fly. Lepre’s RBI was his 64th of the year, two behind the single-season mark of 66 set by Rob Avila in 1999.
After the Flames tied the game in the third off starter Kyle Adkins, the Mustangs used a three-run fourth to go ahead to stay.
Nick Tuttle’s two-run single snapped a four-all tie and Jeremiah Farris’ bases-loaded walk made it a 7-4 game.
In the fifth, the Mustangs put the game away with seven runs and two records fell, one of those at least, until the club plays again next Friday.
The first to go was the career hits mark when Maitland led off the frame with a double and the 256th hit of his four-year career at TMU.
“He’s one of the best hitters I’ve ever played with,” said Shackelford. “The hit record speaks to his consistency and hard work. He’s been an amazing teammate and my best friend.”
Then the power-hitting shortstop stepped to the plate and swatted his program-record 23rd homer of the year, a two-run shot to right-center field.
With that swing of the bat, Shackelford also pushed past Lepre with his 64th and 65th RBIs of the campaign, drawing him within one of the single-season record.
This record-breaking home run race between Lepre and Shackelford is a very fluid one and could go back and forth over the final 12 regular-season games and into the postseason.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Maitland on the home run race between Shackelford and Lepre. “Both humble guys who just enjoy the game and have come so far. It’s just nice to see them have success their senior years, especially of this magnitude.”
The Mustangs reached double figures in runs scored for the fourth straight game and the seventh time in their last eight outings.
Roy Verdejo, who went 3-4 and Batz, who was 3-3, paced the club’s 15-hit attack. Maitland and Shackelford had two hits apiece.
Batz is hitting .552 (16-29) over his last seven games.
Mustang starter Kyle Adkins grinded out his sixth straight winning decision (he hasn’t lost since February 14), going four innings to improve to 7-1.
Aidan Stout recorded his team-high fifth save of the season.
The Mustangs, who lead the GSAC (16-6) by a game over Vanguard and Hope International, resume conference play next Friday and Saturday at Westmont in a double-header.