Lawrenceville, Ga. -- Michael Sexton homered and doubled in the go-ahead run as The Master's University rallied past LSU-Shreveport 8-4 at the NAIA National Championship Opening Round Monday morning.
The come-from-behind win puts the Mustangs into an evening showdown (4:00pm PDT) with Lawrenceville Bracket host and No. 14 Georgia Gwinnett.
The Mustangs trailed the Pilots 3-1 going to the last of the seventh when they sent 12 batters to the plate in what turned into a six-run frame. Pearson Good earned a leadoff walk, moved to second on Matt Janes' single through the left side, advanced to third base on a balk, and scored on a wild pitch. Janes wasn't too far behind with the tying run, making his way eventually to third from where he scored on a Jonah Jarrard infield single that tied the game.
Then Sexton stepped to the plate and lined his tie-breaking double to left-center field, plating Max Maitland, who had walked earlier, with the run that put the Mustangs up 4-3. Moments later, Luke Halverson, running for Jarrard, and Sexton scored on consecutive wild pitches to make it a 6-3 game. David Sheaffer kept the line moving with a single to center field and eventually scored when Janes drew a bases-loaded walk for the inning's final run.
That explosion made a winner of starter Aaron Alexander, who battled his way through seven innings during which he surrendered eight hits, walked three and struck out two. He improved to 10-4.
Reliever Danny Lutz took over in the eighth and got into hot water right away as the Pilots loaded the bases with no outs. However, Lutz escaped the inning with just one run being scored and gloved the final out of the frame while stranding a couple of Pilots.
The Mustangs got that run back in the bottom of the inning, parlaying three base hits into the game's final run. With two outs, Aaron Shackelford kept the frame alive with a single through the right side and promptly swiped second base. He moved up 90 feet on a Sheaffer infield single and then scored on Jason Karkenny's bunt single.
Lutz closed things out in 1-2-3 fashion in the top of the ninth to move the Mustangs into the winner's bracket of the double-elimination Opening Round.
Earlier, the Pilots scored the game's first one in the top of the second when they used a walk and two singles against Alexander for a 1-0 lead. Two innings later, they doubled their advantage when Alexander balked in a run.
Shreveport protected that lead through the first three and a half frames on the right arm of starter Renny Tolentino, who blanked the Mustangs on two hits in that span.
However, in the fourth, Sexton struck with a homer to right field to halve the deficit. It was his team-leading 16th blast of the season.
The Pilots answered in the top of the fifth, nicking Alexander for a run on a double and single.
That 3-1 advantage held up until the game-changing seventh when the Mustangs pounced on Pilot pitching for six decisive runs.
Sexton's big day (3-for-5, homer, 2 RBI) paced the Mustangs' 12-hit attack with Jarrard, Shackelford, Sheaffer, and Karkenny adding two hits apiece.
Monday evening's game between TMU and Georgia Gwinnett will be the first between the two schools. The victor will stay in the winners' bracket and move on to play Webber International (Fla.) on Tuesday afternoon.