By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
You might call it a battle of the bats.
Mustang teammates Jaiden France and Aaron Shackelford are evidently competing to see which slugger can lift the Mustangs more squarely on to his back this week.
France homered Friday for the third straight game, and Shackelford launched a three-run shot in the eighth inning to cement an 11-0 rout of Menlo College at Cartan Field in Atherton and continue his recent tear.
It all meant TMU moved to 19-13 overall and 11-10 in Golden State Athletic Conference play and gained a hair more breathing room in the standings.
Menlo (13-17, 9-13), with a second game scheduled for Friday afternoon, sat 2.5 games back of Master’s for fourth place. The Mustangs didn’t fare as well on last weekend’s trip north, when No. 6 William Jessup, the conference’s first-place team, swept TMU in three games.
Master’s put runners all over the bases but advanced few to home. Friday’s first game was a home run in that department as Master’s scored a run in the second, then added four in the top of the sixth, three in the seventh and three more in the eighth.
France hit his two-run shot in the seventh, and Shackelford followed in the eighth by driving a 2-1 pitch out of the park. Shackelford has hit safely in eight of his last nine games, with five of his six home runs coming in that span.
On Tuesday, in a 13-4 win over visiting Bethesda University, it was France that followed Shackelford’s dinger, producing back-to-back home runs that highlighted a seven-run seventh. TMU obviously wanted to roll over the momentum into the weekend.
Senior Josh Robison went 3-for-5 Friday. Preston White, the Mustangs’ leading hitter on the year, finished 2-for-3 and scored three runs. And Shackelford was 2-for-5 with four RBIs, while Pearson Good was 1-for-2 with a trio of runs batted in.
It was all more than enough for starter Scott Savage, who tossed seven shutout innings. He struck out four, walked one and navigated nine hits during an outing that matched his longest of the season. He also went seven against Hope International on Feb. 16 when struck out 10 batters.
He pitched more to contact Friday, using 107 pitches to induce nine fly outs and seven groundouts.
Caleb Jaime came on to throw two hitless innings in relief. The freshman struck out two and walked one, an encouraging sign for a pitcher coach Monte Brooks sees as a valuable part of the bullpen moving forward.
The second game of the double-header was scheduled for 3 p.m.