May 24, 2013
Lewiston, ID. – The Master’s College baseball team has faced their fair share of uphill battles. Once again, the Mustangs rose to the challenge and overcame adversity.
Characterizing their season, the squad lost standout first baseman, Spencer Downs, to a season-ending injury on April 20. Three weeks later, TMC overcame a 4-0 deficit against Golden State Athletic Conference rival San Diego Christian on May 11. Doing so, the Mustangs secured a trip to Lewiston, Idaho, for the 2013 NAIA World Series.
The Master’s College first World Series games since 2000, against the No. 4 seeded Northwood University of Texas, proved to be no different.
The Knights scored a first inning run and kept the No. 5 seeded Mustangs silent for two innings, leading 1-0. TMC has built its season on pitching and defense, and the defense was never more evident than in the bottom of the second. With a runner on second and just one out, center fielder Caleb Halverson (Temple City, CA) made a highlight reel diving catch on a line drive in the gap in left center field to save a run. The next batter drilled a line drive, but shortstop Jonathan Popadics (Boise, ID) climbed the ladder to snag the would-be RBI base hit for the final out of the inning.
In the very next inning, TMC capitalized on a one-out bunt single by Cody Harris (Lakewood, CA), followed by a double from James Scott (Santa Clarita, CA), which plated Harris. A single by Popadics into shallow left field had the makings of a close play at the plate as Scott was sent home, but the Northwood left fielder allowed the ball to get past him, followed by the center fielder backing up the play also misplaying the ball allowing Popadics to end up at third. After the wild events of the inning, the Mustangs had regained the lead at 2-1.
A two-out rally in the fourth inning kept the momentum in the Mustangs favor as senior Chris Talley (Simi Valley) drilled his fourth homerun of the season, to give TMC a 3-1 lead. Sam Robison (San Juan Capistrano, CA) then singled through the hole at shortstop, promptly stole second, and then scored on Harris’ second hit of the day increasing the Mustang advantage to 4-1.
For the next five innings, things remained quiet despite a steady rain falling throughout the middle portion of the game. GSAC pitcher of the year, A.J. Work kept the Northwood offense off balance, and after throwing 124 pitches, Work gave way to Andrew Klausmeier (Northridge, CA), to start the ninth inning.
After a lead-off single, Klausmeier retired the next two batters, but the Northwood Knights would not go quietly. After a double down the left field line by Jordan Lewis, Northwood had the tying run at the plate. The lead was narrowed to 4-2 after a passed ball by catcher, Chris Talley. The final out appeared to be in order after a grounder to short, but Popadics throw was wide of the bag, and the play was ruled an infield single. On the play, the lead was cut in half to 4-3. Klausmeier was able to get ahead in the count to the next batter, and the Mustangs took the wind out of the Knight’s comeback sails when Popadics, calmly caught a frozen rope without taking a step to finally put the game on ice.
A.J. Work picked up his 13th win of the season, surrendering only one run on six hits over eight innings. Work also tallied three strikeouts and two walks, while Klausmeier recorded the save for TMC.
Head coach Monte Brooks stated, “I’m thrilled at how our guys hung in there and held off their [Northwood’s] attempted comeback. This victory is special because we get a few days off to rest and come ready to play on Monday.”
With the victory, the Mustangs lifted their overall record to 44-15, and improved their lifetime World Series record to 3-2. TMC now looks to make Memorial Day even more memorable as they take on the winner of the No. 1 seeded Faulkner (Ala.) vs. No. 9 seeded Missouri Baptist game at 3:00 PM (PST).
For more information on the World Series, click here.