Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
Sitting inside a dugout at Herwaldt Stadium this week, Master’s reliever Aidan Stout was confident — and not concerned — that the Mustangs’ 15-game winning streak entering a crucial series at Westmont wouldn’t last forever.
“We’re just trying to win series to go to the series,” he said.
Saturday, Stout was tasked with throwing more than 100 pitches in relief in hopes of salvaging the finale of the four-game set in Santa Barbara.
The tall right-hander was impressive, holding Westmont to one run for 6 1/3 innings before Nick Sablock hit a walk-off single in the 10th to lift the Warriors to a 7-6 victory.
Westmont beat Master’s 11-7 in the day’s first game, part of a weekend sweep that dropped the Mustangs (27-13-1, 16-10 GSAC) into a three-way tie for fourth place in Golden State Athletic Conference standings.
Six teams remain within 2.5 games of first. Only five will make the conference tournament later this month.
Saturday’s losses weren’t for lack of power. TMU catcher Anthony Lepre hit three home runs to give him an NAIA-leading 26 for the year. And Aaron Shackelford hit his 24th and 25th blasts of the campaign.
It was Sablock’s’ 10th-inning liner to left, however, that drove in the day’s final run shortly before sundown, spoiling Stout’s strong outing.
Stout was calm in tight spots. In the seventh, Westmont loaded the bases with no outs. Then Stout induced a 5-2-3 double play and a strikeout to end the threat.
In the ninth, he struck out the side, two batters going down looking on sharp curveballs.
“He always throws well,” Lepre, TMU’s catcher, said. “I’m confident when he’s throwing that he will pound the strike zone.”
Despite Lepre’s sixth-inning homer in game one, the Mustangs trailed 11-3 after seven.
In the ninth, Shackelford and Lepre hit back-to-back jacks as part of a four-run rally. But the game ended with men on first and second.
Here are the box scores for game one and game two.
Still, Shackelford said the Mustangs remain confident about their chances in the race for a GSAC tournament berth with six conference games remaining.
“We played hard this weekend, but we didn’t play near our best,” he said. “There may have been some complacency. We hope this challenges us and forces us to toughen up.”
The Mustangs were encouraged by their play in the series finale. Asked what he specifically liked about the game, Lepre pointed to TMU’s mentality.
“We didn’t give up,” he said.
Said Shackelford, “We played really hard in the second game. We were a different team. If we can take the mentality we had in the second game into this next week, we are going to be just fine.”
Wednesday will be particularly crucial.
The Mustangs will play non-conference games against Marymount California (Tuesday) and Bethesda (Thursday), but Wednesday at TMU they will complete two GSAC games that were suspended earlier in the year against Arizona Christian.
“We’re so pumped we get another opportunity in only a few days,” Shackelford said.
Top photo by Tony Berru.