Oaks Too Strong

April 8, 2016

Atherton, Calif. -- Menlo used a three-run fourth inning to snap a tie and then hung on in the ninth to outlast The Master’s College 6-3 in the first game of a GSAC weekend series Friday afternoon in Atherton.

The loss was the club’s second in a row in conference play and dropped the Mustangs (13-9 GSAC, 24-13 overall) four games behind front-running Westmont and into a virtual third-place tie with Biola.

Tied at 2-2 going to the last of the fourth, the Oaks strung together four hits against Mustang starter Jason Karkenny (7-4), including a couple of run-scoring singles, to break the deadlock and take a 5-2 lead.

They added a leadoff home run in the sixth to extend the advantage to four runs.

Meanwhile, Oaks’ starter Ashkhon Kuhaulua was stymying the Mustang bats, shutting out TMC on just one hit from the fifth through the eighth innings before a ninth-inning rally forced him from the game and brought on reliever Sklyer Fuss.

Kuhaulua's eight-inning stint wasn't lost on Mustang coach Monte Brooks, who said, "We got behind early against, arguably, the best pitcher in the conference and just couldn't catch up."

The Mustangs cut the deficit to 6-3 in their final at-bat when Michael Sexton led off with a single through the right side and courtesy runner Josh Robison scored moments later when Nick Covello’s grounder was booted by Oaks’ first baseman Jon Nelson for an unearned run. 

Covello was balked to second base by Fuss and then the righthander hit Jonah Jarrard to bring the potential tying run to the plate with one out.  However, he was able to get Brad Lohse and Aaron Shackelford on flyouts to preserve the win and notch his fourth save of the season.

The Oaks, who never trailed, jumped ahead in their first at-bat, capitalizing on a two-out error to take a 2-0 lead.

After leaving a runner aboard in each of the first two frames, the Mustangs halved the deficit in the third inning when Shackelford lined a one-out single through the right side, advanced to second base on a Max Maitland single, and scored on Brandon Van Horn’s rbi double to left field.  The Mustangs almost tied the game on Van Horn’s two-bagger but Maitland was thrown out at home plate.

An inning later, though, the Mustangs did even things up when Covello slugged a one-out home run over the right field fence for his eighth roundtripper of the season.

However, the Oaks responded in the last half of the inning, snapping the tie with the two, run-scoring singles sandwiched around an rbi groundout to take a lead they would not relinquish.

After falling short in the first game of the series, the Mustangs will get two more chances at the Oaks on Saturday when they play a doubleheader.