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TMC baseball eliminated from NAIA World Series

TMC sees late lead disappear in loss to Lewis-Clark State

Posted: May 28, 2013 3:54 p.m.
Updated: May 28, 2013 3:54 p.m.

The Master's College starting pitcher James Scott pitches against Lewis-Clark State College in an elimination game of the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho on Tuesday. TMC lost 3-2. Photo courtesy of Referee Photo.

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For eight innings everything was going right for The Master’s College Mustangs baseball team in an elimination game of the NAIA World Series at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho.

Then in a flash, everything went wrong.

Two hit batsmen and a walk turned what would have been two harmless singles into a three-run, come-from-behind ninth inning for the Lewis-Clark State Warriors, as TMC was eliminated from the tournament, 3-2, on Tuesday afternoon.

It was as close as it could have been too, with right fielder Chris Talley sending a strike toward catcher Spencer Toth whose tag was just late on Lewis-Clark pinch-runner Kevin Knapp.

“It was milliseconds,” said TMC head coach Monte Brooks. “It was just milliseconds. It was so close, if he was called out I don’t think too many people would have said anything.”

The Mustangs (44-17) lost another one-run game, 7-6, on Monday to No. 1 seed Faulkner of Alabama.

“It’s that bad taste in your mouth. You know you’re so close to being in the winner’s bracket after yesterday’s game,” Scott said. “Then we went two-and-out today and yesterday.”

Scott held a shutout entering the final frame when he hit Lewis-Clark State’s Kyle Blackwell and walked Eric Peterson to give the Warriors (44-14) late life.

“That was very challenging moment,” Brooks said on whether to put Scott back out for then ninth. “He did have a high pitch count, but he was doing so well. He kind of had their number and was settling in so well and adrenaline was running so high we felt like we needed to give him an opportunity to go ahead and do it.”

After a sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position with one out, Kyle Knigge came through with a two-RBI single to tie the game.

With 128 pitches under his belt, Scott was pulled for reliever and Saugus High graduate Tommy Kister.

Kister quickly got the second out of the inning before hitting Jacob Cano to move the tying run to second base.

And once again, the miscue came back to bite the Mustangs.

Center fielder Jake Shirley came through with the game-winner on an RBI single to right field to end TMC’s season.

“That’s what hurt,” Monte said of the pitching miscues. “The pitchers know. The pitchers know we can’t bean and walk people and I think that’s probably what hurts the most.”

It was one of the most successful seasons in The Master’s College baseball history, as the Mustangs won a school-record 44 games and advanced to the NAIA World Series for the first time since 2000, when they finished in third place overall.

TMC also won the Golden State Athletic Conference for the first time since 2003 and hosted an NAIA Baseball Championship Opening Round tournament.

“I’m super proud of everybody,” said pitcher Daniel Sheaffer. “We did both from being ahead and coming back from when we were down to get here. Two heartbreakers back to back is not how you want to go out, but we have to be thankful, win or lose. God has blessed us with a great season.”

The Mustangs broke a 0-0 tie in the sixth, when Joe Riddle scored Steven Karkenny on a single up the middle.

TMC added an insurance run in the eighth when Jonathan Popadics reached on an error, and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.

Riddle was 2-for-2 with two walks and an RBI.

The team will lose five seniors off this year’s squad in Spencer Downs, ace pitcher A.J. Work, Tyler Elrod, Chris Talley and Sheaffer.

“This is one of the most fun teams we’ve had at TMC,” Sheaffer said. “It’s amazing the group of guys on this team that get along so well, have fun and compete at such a high level. Even though it’s disappointing, it still feels like we went out on top. I’ll never forget this season or these guys.”

Mason Nesbitt contributed to this report.

jstein

@signalscv.com

661-287-5536

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