Warriors Prevail Over Mustangs
March 7, 2014
Santa Clarita, CA -- Brent Fukushima drove in three runs and scored the eventual game-winner as Westmont ended The Master's College perfect season at home, edging the Mustangs 5-3 Friday afternoon on Reese Field.
Winners of their first 11 games at home, the club's loss also snapped a four-game winning skein, dropping the Mustangs to 22-4 overall and 12-4 in the GSAC, where their lead was narrowed to 1 1/2 games after second-place San Diego defeated Biola earlier in the day.
Pitching dominated the first four frames as Mustang starter Tommy Kister (Saugus, CA) and his Westmont counterpart Torin Shaikh combined to post eight zeroes on the scoreboard.
Each club had a chance to score in their initial at-bat but Kister stranded a runner at third when he induced an inning-ending double play while Shaikh threw out Jon Popadics (Boise, ID) at the plate on a steal attempt in the last of the first.
From there until the bottom of the fourth, neither team produced a hit and when Sam Robison (San Juan Capistrano, CA) rapped a one-out single in that frame, he was eventually left at third base.
Kister's string of scoreless innings came to an end, though, in the top of the fifth when the Warriors used a lead-off double, a groundout, and Fukushima's infield single to snap a scoreless tie.
Meanwhile, Shaikh lived dangerously in each of the next two innings, allowing the first two Mustangs he faced in the fifth to get on before wiggling out of that jam and then stranding two more in the sixth after the hosts started the inning sandwiching a pair of singles around a walk.
That came back to haunt the Mustangs immediately as the Warriors put up three runs in the top of the seventh with Fukushima singling in two of them and then scoring the third himself on a sacrifice fly, extending their lead to 4-0.
Those runs became decisive because the Mustangs finally made Shaikh pay for his Houdini impersonation in the bottom of the seventh, halving the deficit with two runs. With one out, Joshua Swartz (Overland Park, KS), pinch-hitting for Spencer Toth (Asheville, NC), slapped a single up the middle and was replaced by courtesy runner Bryce Clancy (Phoenix, AZ) who moved up 90 feet following a walk to Caleb Halverson (Temple City, CA). Both runners advanced on a passed ball and Steve Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) promptly plated Clancy with a sacrifice fly to right field. Halverson took third base on the flyout and scored moments later on a Popadics' two-out single to left field, drawing the Mustangs within 4-2.
In the top of the eighth, the Warriors countered with some small ball, getting one of those runs back on a one-out walk, a stolen base, a passed ball, and a sacrifice fly off reliever Dalton Thompson (Riverside, CA).
Reliever Devin Matson gave the visitors a big lift in the last of the eighth, allowing one hit but no runs in a shutdown frame.
After Thompson retired the Warriors in order in the top of the ninth, his teammates went to work in their final at-bat, hoping to rally from a three-run deficit. With one out, Halverson doubled down the left-field line off Westmont closer Dan Gildea. He stayed at second base when Karkenny beat out an infield hit and then both runners advanced when Popadics singled to right field to load the bases.
Ryan Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) plated Halverson when he bounced into a fielder's choice, slicing the margin to 5-3 and putting runners on the corners. However, Gildea earned his third save of the season and preserved the Warrior win when he got Robison to bounce into a game-ending fielder's choice at second base.
Despite giving up just four hits in six innings of work, Kister was tagged with his first loss (3-1) of the year while Shaikh improved to 4-2.
Popadics' second four-hit game of the season paced the Mustangs, who outhit the Warriors 12-8. Robison added two hits while six other Mustangs rapped out a hit.
The Mustangs will look to turn things around against the Warriors on Saturday when the clubs square off in a doubleheader. The first pitch of the opener on Reese Field will be thrown at 11:00am.