The Master's College

Split Decision

March 8, 2014

Santa Clarita, CA -- Steve Karkenny earned All-American honors as an outfielder last year.  He's on his way to repeating those kudos in 2014 but he may get some consideration as a pitcher, too, if he keeps on displaying his versatility as he did Saturday afternoon on Reese Field.

The junior righthander hurled 5 2/3 innings of shutout relief in the nightcap and when his teammates capitalized on a Westmont error in the 10th inning to score the winning run, he earned his first victory of the season as the Mustangs salvaged a split with the visiting Warriors, beating them 3-2 after being blanked 4-0 in the opener.

The split kept the Mustangs from being swept in a twinbill and series for the first time this year and snapped their first two-game losing skid of the season.  Coupled with San Diego Christian's sweep of Biola, the split left the Mustangs (23-5, 13-5 GSAC) with just a half-game lead over the Hawks in a suddenly very competitive GSAC race.

Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) entered the second game in the fifth inning and stranded two Warriors, leaving Westmont with a 2-1 lead.  The Warriors had drawn first blood in the second inning, sandwiching a single and a double around a Mustang error to go up 1-0.  Two innings later, they used another Mustang mistake, this one a balk by starter Andrew Klausmeier (Northridge, CA) with a runner on third base, to add another run.

In the bottom of the frame, the Mustangs halved the deficit without a hit when Jon Popadics (Boise, ID) drew a lead-off walk, swiped second and third, and scored on Collin Nyenhuis' (Vista, CA) groundout.

Following his rescue job in the fifth, Karkenny sailed through the sixth and seventh frames, retiring all six batters he faced while keeping his teammates close.

That paid off in the seventh when the Mustangs evened things up on Joe Riddle's (Bakersfield, CA) clutch, two-out single up the middle that plated courtesy runner Ethan Stine (Apple Valley, CA).  Stine was running for Nyehuis who led off with a single down the left-field line.  He moved to second base on a Warrior error, raced to third when Tyler Krahn (Abbotsford, BC, Canada) bounced into a double play, and scored on Riddle's base hit that sent the game into extra innings.

The Mustangs had a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth when they loaded the bases with one out but consecutive strikeouts kept the game tied. 

After Karkenny stranded a runner in the top of the tenth, the Mustangs scored without the benefit of a hit for the second time, and this time with two outs.  After Caleb Halverson (Temple City, CA) struck out and Karkenny flew out, Popadics walked, went to second base on a passed ball, and scored the winning run on a Warrior error.

That was one more run than the Mustangs managed in the first game as Warrior starter Russell Harmening shut them out for the first this year, scattering five hits and striking out five.

The Mustangs had a few chances to score against the righthander, including an opportunity in the bottom of the first when Halverson and Karkenny, who had two hits apiece, led off with consecutive singles but a pair of flyouts and a groundout ended the threat.

They left Halverson at second base in the third inning and Karkenny was stranded there, too, after a one-out double in the eighth.

Meanwhile, the Warriors did all their damage in the third when they roughed up Mustang starter James Scott (Canyon Country, CA) for four runs on three hits.  The big hit was a three-run homer off the bat of Brandon Gildea that followed an rbi single by Joey Gonzales.

Scott (2-1) wound up going five innings, giving up seven hits and striking out two.  Freshman lefthander Conner Menez followed Scott to the mound and was impressive over three shutout innings, striking out two and allowing no hits.

The Mustangs now get five days off before hosting Biola in a three-game series next weekend, starting on Friday at 2:00pm on Reese Field.