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TMC baseball headed to NAIA World Series for first time since 2000

TMC beats San Diego Christian 11-7 to clinch Regional victory

Posted: May 11, 2013 6:06 p.m.
Updated: May 11, 2013 6:06 p.m.

Members of The Master's College baseball team celebrate on Saturday at The Master's College after clinching a spot in the NAIA World Series.

 

Waiting anxiously, the final strike could not come soon enough for The Master’s College baseball players, coaches and faithful.

But the long wait is now over.

For the first time since 2000, the Mustangs earned a trip to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho with an 11-7 win over the San Diego Christian College Hawks in the clinching game of the 2013 NAIA Baseball Championship Opening Round on Saturday at Pete Reese Field.

After two pitches that just missed the strike zone, Tommy Kister struck out San Diego Christian’s Alex Mann looking to end the game and send his teammates, and the capacity crowd, into a frenzy.

“We’re very grateful and thrilled to do it with this group of guys,” said TMC head coach Monte Brooks. “God has been gracious to us.”

The sophomore Kister tossed his glove high in the air with joy, and was then joined by the rest of his teammates in a dog pile in front of the pitcher’s mound.

It was a moment the Mustangs (43-15) have envisioned since the season’s beginning.

“From day one, I just really tried to explain to the team what we have,” Brooks said regarding the team’s early season goals of making it to the World Series. “These kids are made of three elements — they’re hard workers, unselfish, and have great resolve.”

On Saturday, finding itself in an early hole, TMC was forced to show some of its character.

Highlighted by a two-out, two-RBI single by Cade Gotta, the Hawks (39-20) scored four runs in the fourth inning on TMC starting pitcher Andrew Klausmeier.

However, Klausmeier found his rhythm after the inning, finishing with six strikeouts and four earned runs allowed over six innings of work.

“He’s a good pitcher, but he was beating himself in that one inning,” Brooks said. “He got outside himself for a little, but I was extremely pleased how he responded and competed.”

The Mustangs let Klausmeier off the hook, scoring four runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Following a two-out error by first baseman Taylor Eichhorst to extend the inning, TMC’s James Scott delivered a three-run home run to right field to tie the score 4-4.

“I was just trying to listen to coach (Brooks), and stay through the ball,” Scott said. “I put a good swing on it, and luckily it got out.”

The Mustangs took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth as Steven Karkenny crossed the plate on an infield single by Ryan Shackelford. The Mustangs then scored five runs in the next frame to make the score 10-4.

The first six Mustangs reached base in the bottom of the seventh, while the first five came around to score.

“We got to their bullpen and were able to capitalize,” Brooks said regarding the rally.

Kister replaced Klausmeier in the top of the seventh.

He allowed three runs over the final three innings, but picked up his second save in as many days in the tournament.

The Saugus High grad worked the final two innings as he secured Friday’s 3-1 win over SDCC.

Pitching was also the difference in TMC’s tournament opener on Thursday.

TMC defeated Tabor College of Kansas 1-0 as Golden State Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year A.J. Work threw a complete game shutout.

“I’m going home,” Work said, who is a native of Boise, Idaho. “Since I came here, I wanted to go to the World Series. It took four years, but it’s going to be great to go back to Lewiston, experience the World Series, and play in that environment.”

The Mustangs will join nine other teams in the double-elimination NAIA World Series from May 24-31.

“That’s the sign of a good team, when other players pick you up and produce,” Brooks said. “We did have the pitcher of the year, and the player of the year, but also had a team. It wasn’t about who was going to get it done, but rather when it was getting done.”

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