Claremont, CA -- Ryan Shackelford hit a go-ahead home run, Jon Popadics drove in two more, and six pitchers combined on a four-hitter as The Master's College zeroed out Claremont 5-0 Tuesday afternoon in non-conference play.
The victory lifted the Mustangs' record to 11-1 overall.
Resting his three primary starters in between GSAC series, Mustang coach Monte Brooks turned to righthander Andrew Klausmeier (Northridge, CA) for the first time in 2014. The senior righthander, projected to be a starter out of fall ball, finally got his chance, albeit a short one. In two innings of work, he struck out two and retired all six batters he faced.
That was just the beginning of Brooks' method of operation on this day with no pitcher going more than two innings. It worked. It worked so well that Claremont copied it, too, running out the same number of pitchers over nine innings.
This seemed to befuddle each teams' offense with neither being able to score through the first six innings. The Mustangs had chances to do so in the second and third innings, respectively, but stranded two runners in each frame.
Meanwhile, the cadre of Mustang hurlers were being stingy. Conner Menez (Hollister, CA) took over in the third frame and fanned all three batters. Hunter Totemeier (Santa Ynez, CA) followed him to the mound in the fourth, got into a little trouble by allowing a base hit and hitting a batter, but got an inning-ending strikeout to end the threat.
Next up was freshman Aaron Alexander (Concord, CA), who tossed two scoreless frames, allowing just two Stags to reach base. Those were enough to give the first-year hurler his initial collegiate win.
Then, in the seventh, the Mustangs finally broke through against the Stags' fourth pitcher, Clayton Brock. They did it quickly when Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) led off the frame with a home run to left-center field, his second of the season. One out later, Sam Robison (San Juan Capistrano, CA), and Josh Brown (Valencia, CA) followed with consecutive hits and Popadics (Boise, ID) brought both of them home with a two-run double down the left field line.
Armed with a 3-0 lead, freshman Jason Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) became the Mustangs' fifth pitcher of the day and did what good relievers are supposed to do after their clubs put them ahead, tossing a shutdown frame. He followed with another similar inning in the eighth and the Mustangs were primed for the win.
However, the Mustang bats had some more life in them, scoring twice more in the ninth to create even more separation.
Tyler Krahn (Abbotsford, BC) was hit to lead off the inning, he moved to second base on a Robison sacrifice bunt, and scored when Brown slapped a single to left field. Later in the inning, Steve Karkenny doubled in Brown with the game's final run and a 5-0 score.
That advantage allowed Brooks to go to Joe Riddle (Bakersfield, CA), the team's designated hitter, for the second time this season and the righthander responded with a hitless ninth to close out the win.
Eight Mustangs collected hits, including Shackelford and Brown who had two apiece.
After two days off, the Mustangs return to conference action on Friday when they travel to Irvine to start a three-game series against Concordia.