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TMC gets two pieces of good news

Posted: April 15, 2014 10:14 p.m.
Updated: April 15, 2014 10:14 p.m.

The Master's College's Jonathan Popadics steals third base in the first inning against Bethesda College at TMC on Tuesday.

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As far as Tuesdays go, The Masters’s College baseball team had a pretty good one.

Before taking down visiting Bethesda University 9-3 in a non-conference game at Reese Field, the Mustangs learned they moved up five spots in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics rankings from No. 17 to No. 12.

The biggest news of the day, however, was that TMC was also named a host site for the sixth annual NAIA Baseball Championship Opening Round. This will be the second consecutive year the Mustangs were chosen as a host.

The selection also earns them an automatic berth in the tournament, which will be played May 12-15 at nine different locations across the country. TMC’s Opening Round will feature a five-team, double-elimination bracket.

The 45 qualifiers and brackets will be announced on May 9.

“We are so excited, so thankful, enthusiastic about the opportunity,” said Mustangs head coach Monte Brooks. “It’s a tremendous honor to have the NAIA select us. For us to have this community rally behind us, I hope as many people in the community can come. We’re really stoked.”

Despite all the good news to start the day, the Mustangs (34-12 overall, 21-12 Golden State Athletic Conference) still had a game to play.

And all the positive vibes carried over onto the diamond as TMC took control of the game in the first inning and never looked back.

The Mustangs took a 3-0 in the bottom of the first thanks to a Ryan Shackelford single that brought in two runs. He later came in on a sacrifice fly by Collin Nyenhuis.

After the Flames scored a run in the third to cut the TMC lead to two runs, the Mustangs came back with four more of their own in the bottom of the inning.

A Caleb Whitley double scored Shackelford, while Spencer Toth brought in two runs with his single to left center and later came home on a Steven Karkenny single.

“It’s nice to get in a rhythm and get going early,” said Shackelford, who finished 1-for-2 with two RBIs and two runs scored. “We got some good swings in. We’re working the ball a lot better this time around. Just trying to get in a rhythm before playoffs start.”

While the Mustangs’ bats were hot, their pitching was just as strong. TMC used five pitchers to hold the Flames to three runs on five hits, while striking out eight and not issuing a single walk.

Starter James Scott put Bethesda down in order in the first and second innings. He went 2 2/3 innings with three strikeouts.

The Flames ended the game on a high note when Joshua Perez hit a two-run home run before TMC’s Justyn Lee could close the door.

Perez was the only Bethesda player to finish the game with more than one hit, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.

“We faced a good team,” said Bethesda head coach Michael Gonzalez. “They put the ball in play. They definitely outhit us and it was a good lesson for us to come out here and play them and see how it’s done.”

The Mustangs continue their break from conference play today when they host a doubleheader against CSU, San Marcos starting at noon.


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