Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
Usually, when a coach gives a preseason interview, he comes armed with one of the game’s tried-and-true catchphrases: Every game, the manager will say, is important. Not one more than the other.
But when two early season games are transplanted into the final weeks of a conference title race, they certainly seem to take on greater importance.
The Master’s University and Arizona Christian, both in the hunt for the Golden State Athletic Conference title, met at Herwaldt Stadium Wednesday to finish two games originally scheduled for completion in late February.
One was replayed due to a successful Master’s protest pertaining to ACU’s starting lineup. One had been suspended due to darkness.
The Mustangs won the first game, 9-4, Wednesday and lost the second, 11-8, after they surrendered seven unearned runs in the top of the final inning.
The teams started game two in the bottom of the sixth inning (of a seven-inning game), with Master’s leading 6-4.
A pair of Firestorm errors gave Master’s an 8-4 advantage heading into the final frame. And that’s when things went sideways.
The Mustangs secured two outs before allowing a run, but an error extended the inning and opened the door for pinch-hitter Jake Sim to launch a go-ahead grand slam over the right field wall. Another error allowed the final two runs to cross.
“We’ve just got to make plays,” said TMU coach Monte Brooks.
The loss dropped the Mustangs (28-14-1, 17-11 GSAC) to three games back of first-place Arizona Christian (31-18, 20-8) and dampened the team’s morale after a strong performance in game one.
Master’s and ACU began the early game in the top of the second with the score 0-0 before the Mustangs exploded for eight runs in the third.
Master’s used six hits and an error to do its damage, with Will Batz whacking a two-run double into left to bring the score to 9-1.
The Mustangs didn’t score again, but they didn’t need to.
Robert Winslow (9-1), who started the game when the teams met the first time in February and Arizona won 5-4, returned to the mound and went the distance. He struck out 13, one shy of a career high, and allowed four runs on nine hits.
He said he’d never thrown a complete game that lasted three months. “That was a first,” Winslow said.
Batz went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. He’s hitting .362 on the year, third best on the team. Ryan Bricker was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in a game where the Mustangs didn’t lean on the longball.
Entering Wednesday, Master’s had homered in 34 of its 40 games. Scoring nine runs without a blast, center fielder Max Maitland felt, was a positive sign.
“We were loose and we had quality at-bats, not really any big blows. But we made it hard on them. A lot of line drives, a lot of hard plays,” said Maitland, who went 3-for-4 in game two.
TMU’s Kameron Quitno was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, both coming back in February before the game was called due to darkness.
Sim’s home run was his sixth of the year and second in three games.
How will the Mustangs respond?
“Good, I hope,” Maitland said. “It’s just one game and we have a good opportunity to have a good series with Ottawa Arizona (next week).”
Here are the box scores for game one and game two.
— Top photo by Tony Berru.