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TMC in must-win spot

Mustangs baseball loses once more and its out of NAIA tournament

Posted: May 12, 2009 9:29 p.m.
Updated: May 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Michael Kraynak’s sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth inning capped a late rally as Taylor of Indiana came from behind to beat The Master’s College 4-3 Tuesday morning in the first game of the NAIA National Championship Opening Round Field 3 Tournament in Mt. Berry, GA.

The loss dropped the Mustangs (36-21) into the losers’ bracket of the tournament where they will play Malone of Ohio in an elimination game this morning.

Feeling no ill effects of the cross-country trek to the south or jitters in their first national tournament appearance in nine years, the Mustangs struck for two runs in their initial at-bat.  

Leadoff hitter Michael Bando reached on an error and moved to second on an Eric Blackwell infield single, and then both scored when Joe Zeller belted a two-run double to the left-center gap.  

That 2-0 lead stayed intact through the first five frames because Mustang ace Tim Woodward was doing just enough to keep the Trojans off the scoreboard.  

After retiring the first five batters he faced, the senior right-hander gave up five hits over the next three-plus innings, but worked his way out of each jam and got a double play from his teammates in the fifth to keep the shutout intact.

In the bottom of the fifth, those same teammates gave Woodward another run to work with.  

With one out, Pete Goeman doubled to right-center and scored on Blackwell’s clutch, two-out single to left field.  

The Mustangs were in position to do more damage when Zeller walked, but Jared Otto flew out to end the frame.

That missed opportunity came back to bite the Mustangs, starting in the top of the sixth when the Trojans finally broke through against Woodward.  

Kraynak stroked a one-out single to center field and then jogged home ahead of Ryne Otis’ home run over the left field fence, drawing the Trojans to within 3-2.

The Mustangs had no answer to that or any of the Trojans’ late tallies because Taylor Kinzer (8-0) and Kraynak blanked them the rest of the way.  

Kinzer gave the Mustangs plenty of scoring opportunities, walking four batters in addition to allowing five hits, but after the fifth he didn’t give up any more hits.

Meanwhile, the Trojan hitters really started to tee off on Woodward.  

In his final 2 1/3 innings of work, Woodward (9-6) was knocked around for seven hits and the runs that tagged him with the loss.

The Trojans drew even in the top of the eighth, banging out four hits, including a two-out, infield single by Cassidy Emery that tied the game at 3-3.

They completed the come-from-behind effort in the ninth, chasing Woodward from the mound and then getting the game-winning sacrifice fly from Kraynak off reliever David Goodenough.

Kraynak completed a superb morning by going to the mound in the ninth and preserving Kinzer’s win while notching his eighth save of the season.

The Trojans wound up out-hitting the Mustangs 14-6 and Blackwell’s two hits paced TMC.

A win over Malone on Wednesday would keep the Mustangs’ World Series chances alive but a loss to the Pioneers, winners of the American Mideast Conference Tournament, would end their season.

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