Santa Barbara, Calif. — Conner Menez hurled a complete-game five-hitter and Pearson Good slugged a three-run homer to lead The Master’s College past Madonna of Michigan 7-1 on the opening day of the NAIA National Championship Opening Round on Russ Carr Field at Westmont.
The victory was the Mustangs’ (39-17) fourth in a row and moved them into the winners’ bracket where they’ll face Westmont, a winner over William Carey (Miss.), on Wednesday.
Going the distance for a staff-high fourth time in 2016, Menez (11-2) blanked the Crusaders over the first seven innings and wound up allowing five hits while striking out six. Getting out of a first-and-third jam in the opening frame, the junior lefthander set down 13 consecutive batters before the Crusaders collected their first hit in the top of the fifth.
By then, the Mustangs had the game well in hand after scoring once in the second inning and then breaking it open with four more in the fourth.
The Mustangs scored the game’s first run in the second inning when Nick Covello led off with a base hit up the middle, stole second base an out later, and raced home on Collin Nyenhuis’ double to center field.
Two innings later, the Mustangs expanded the advantage to five runs on the strength of three singles and a home run. Michael Sexton led off the frame with an infield single and was still at first base two outs later when Nyenhuis kept the inning alive with a base hit to left field.
Designated hitter Jonah Jarrard clutched up and drove in Sexton with a single up the middle, and then Pearson Good capped off the inning with a three-run homer over the left field fence. Good’s second roundtripper of the season gave the Mustangs a 5-0 lead.
With Menez sailing through the middle innings, the Mustangs gave their southpaw another run to work with in the last of the sixth as Jarrard walloped a one-out, solo home run over the right field fence. It was Jarrard’s fifth of the year.
The Crusaders finally dented the scoreboard against Menez in the eighth, sandwiching two singles around a groundout to make it a 6-1 game. However, the Mustangs countered that run with one of their own in the bottom of the inning, using a Covello double and a Jarrard sacrifice fly to close out the scoring.
Covello, Nyenhuis, and Jarrard had two hits apiece to lead the club’s eight-hit attack.
After the game, Mustang head coach Monte Brooks said, “Conner (Menez) was fabulous. The timing of the complete game was perfect for us. Also, I can’t say enough about the clutch hitting against a very good pitcher.”
Now, the Mustangs turn their attention to Westmont, the Opening Round’s host and top-seeded team. The Warriors won the GSAC’s regular-season championship but were eliminated in the conference tournament, won by the Mustangs. The two clubs met just three times during the regular season with the Warriors taking two of three.
The first pitch between the two GSAC rivals will be thrown at 12:30.