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TMC's Bull's-eye Is Hit

Posted: February 28, 2008 11:58 a.m.
Updated: April 30, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Ranulfo Grijalva throws a pitch on Wednesday against Westmont. The Mustangs lost at home and are now 5-3 in Golden State Athletic Conference play.

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With new NAIA rankings out on Wednesday, The Master's College baseball team went from being unranked one week to being No. 9 the next.

The Mustangs team that won 12 of its first 15 games to earn that ranking did not show up at home against Westmont (3-7, 2-6), the last place team in the Golden State Athletic Conference coming into Wednesday's game.

Five errors in the first four innings was enough for the Warriors to get a 7-4 win at Reese Field, holding off a late TMC comeback.

"Our team has been successful because we play good defense and have good pitching," said Mustangs head coach Monte Brooks. "But we didn't play defense."

The errors came back to bite TMC (12-3-1, 5-3) right from the start.

After starting pitcher Caleb Mintz got the first two batters of the game out, he hit Robert De Leon with a pitch. Matt Boujikian singled in the next at bat and an error by third baseman Ben Ives allowed the runners to advance to second and third.

A single by Hart graduate Taylor Maddox scored the pair for Westmont for an early 2-0 lead.

Maddox went 1-for-3 with a walk.

Mintz (0-1) followed that up with two scoreless innings despite there being one error apiece in the second and third frames.

But a five-run fourth inning turned out to be insurmountable for TMC.

Valencia grad Jordan Bottenfield led off the fourth with a single and the Warriors batted around, ending the inning with Bottenfield's groundout. The Mustangs made two errors in the inning and it put Westmont up 7-0.

Bottenfield was 1-for-4, scoring a run.

Mintz took the loss and left the game after 3 2/3 innings giving up seven runs on eight hits, but only one of his runs was earned. The sophomore didn't walk a batter or strike out a batter.

While TMC's gloves had a tough day, the bats took awhile to get going too. By the time the Mustangs did, it was too little too late.

Warriors starter Erik Gaustad (1-0) didn't give up a hit until the fourth inning, a double by Mintz to the gap in left field. TMC scored two runs in the bottom of that frame on back-to-back RBI singles by Tyler Diamond and Graham Miller, cutting the deficit to 7-2.

"The first seven innings we popped up 11 times. We didn't make those guys make plays," Brooks said. "We chased pitches. We weren't patient at the plate. We gave them routine outs."

Gaustad pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He struck out two and walked four.

"He just changed speeds and hit his spots. He's done that all year for us," said Westmont head coach Scott Deck. "It's not an overwhelming fastball, but his fastball's a lot better when he gets his offspeed in for a strike."

But after Gaustad came out of the game, things got a little shaky for Westmont.

Reliever Keith Johnson gave up a pair of runs in the eighth on an RBI double by Diamond and an RBI single by Kirk Nungester.

Meanwhile, TMC relievers Ranulfo Grijalva and Tyler Bersano held firm, combining for 5 1/3 scoreless innings.

As a result, Westmont took a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth and reliever Timothy Crabbe struck out the first two Mustangs batters swinging.

But as quickly as he got two outs, he suddenly couldn't find the plate. Crabbe walked three straight batters to load the bases.

"That's how all the games are in this league. Even if you are up 7-4, that happens everytime," Deck said. "I probably grew a couple of extra gray hairs."

Crabbe was able to work out of the jam, getting Diamond to ground into a fielder's choice.

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