Monte Brooks could get used to this. For the second Saturday in a row, his Mustangs got tremendous pitching from Dalton Thompson and Tucker Richardson, and more timely hitting as The Master’s College beat Biola in a GSAC doubleheader 5-2 and 8-1, completing a three-game sweep for the second weekend in a row.
With the victories, the Mustangs remained undefeated at 6-0 and started conference play 3-0.
With injuries sidelining projected starters James Scott (Canyon Country, CA) and Andrew Klausmeier (Northridge, CA), Brooks has turned to Thompson (Riverside, CA) and Richardson (Modesto, CA), and has not been disappointed.
In the opener, Thompson (2-0) surrendered a first-inning run to the Eagles and nothing after that through six innings of work, allowing five hits, walking one, and striking out another. The sophomore righthander retired the side in order three times, including the sixth when he closed out his stint with an inning-ending strikeout. Over his first 12 innings, Thompson has allowed just two earned runs (1.50 ERA) and struck out five.
After leaving the bases loaded in their initial at-bat, the Mustangs evened the score in the second inning when Caleb Halverson (Temple City, CA) singled in courtesy runner Ethan Stine (Apple Valley, CA) with two outs. Stine was running for Spencer Toth (Asheville, NC) who had reached base on a fielder’s choice.
Following a scoreless third and fourth, the Mustangs loaded the bases in the fifth with no outs on singles by Bryce Clancy (Phoenix, AZ) and Jon Popadics (Boise, ID), and an Eagle error that allowed Steve Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) to reach first base. Then, designated hitter Joe Riddle (Bakersfield, CA) stepped to the plate and promptly swatted a Jesse Yancosek pitch over the head of centerfielder Rob Groeschell for a bases-clearing double and a 4-1 lead.
That was more than enough for Thompson who stifled the Eagles before handing the ball over to freshman reliever Jason Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA). The righthander retired the first six batters he faced before running into trouble in the top of the ninth. He gave up three hits and wasn’t helped by an error that led to a run but he wiggled out of further trouble by striking out Tanner Swire with two men on to preserve the win.
A half inning earlier, an Eagle error, one of three in the opener, gave the Mustangs their final run and a 5-1 lead. After Toth reached on a one-out bunt single, Stine ran for him again and raced to second base on a wild pitch, moved to third on a Popadics’ sacrifice bunt, and scored on an Eagle miscue.
The Mustangs outhit the Eagles 9-8 in the first game with Halverson, Clancy, Riddle, and Toth collecting two hits apiece.
Now, it was Richardson’s turn in the nightcap and the lefty started out in auspicious fashion, striking out the side in the first inning. He set down the first eight Eagles he faced before hitting a batter in the third. By that time, his teammates had given him a seven-run cushion and he was able to challenge Biola hitters the rest of the way.
Six of those seven runs crossed home plate in the last of the first inning when the Mustangs lit up Biola starter Eric Diomartch, who didn’t help himself by walking two batters beside the four hits he allowed.
Popadics tripled in Clancy, who was running for a nicked-up Halverson, for the game’s first run, and Ryan Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) brought home Popadics with a sacrfice fly for a 2-0 lead. Later in the frame, Robison singled in another run, junior transfer Josh Brown (Valencia, CA) made it 5-0 with a ringing triple to right center field, and Toth capped off the outburst with a single that plated Brown.
An inning later, the Mustangs extended the advantage to 7-0 when Shackelford ripped a two-out double to left center, bringing Riddle, who had singled, all the way around.
The Eagles finally dented the scoreboard in the top of the fourth, parlaying two singles, a walk, and sacrifice fly into what turned out to be their only run of the game.
Richardson closed out his five-inning stint by setting the Eagles down in order in the fifth. Richardson struck out four and allowed just two hits. He handed the ball off to Steve Karkenny and the multi-talented All-American leftfielder showed he can pitch, too, blanking the Eagles over the final two frames.
The Mustangs scored the final run of the game in the bottom of the sixth on a Joshua Swartz (Overland Park, KS) triple to center field that scored Shackelford, who had reached on another Biola error.
Popadics, Robison, and Toth paced the Mustangs’ 11-hit attack with two hits apiece while Brown and Shackelford drove in two runs each.
After a day off, the Mustangs will try to extend their winning streak against Simpson in another doubleheader on Monday. The first pitch will be thrown at 11:30 on Reese Field.
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