LA MIRADA, Calif. -- Steve Karkenny drove in the winning run in the eighth inning and brother Jason hurled over four innings of strong relief as The Master's College squeaked by Corban of Oregon 4-3 Monday afternoon in a non-conference game on the campus of Biola University.
Off to the best start in school history, the 12th-ranked Mustangs' victory was their fourth in a row, kept them undefeated (7-0) in non-conference play, and ran their record to an impressive 17-2.
The win had the appearance of a runaway early on when the Mustangs strung together four hits against Corban starter Jacob Kopra and scored three times in their first at-bat. With one out, Steve Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) slapped a single up the middle, moved to second base on a wild pitch, swiped third, and trotted home on Jon Popadics' (Boise, ID) base hit to right field.
Following a walk to Joe Riddle (Bakersfield, CA) and a strikeout, Collin Nyehuis (Vista, CA) plated Popadics with a two-out, rbi single to left field, and Josh Brown ((Valencia, CA) clutched up, too, producing the inning's final run with a single up the middle that scored Riddle for a 3-0 lead.
The Warriors got one of those runs back in the top of the second, dinging Mustang starter Dalton Thompson (Riverside, CA) for two hits, and using an error to slice the deficit to 3-1.
With both pitchers regaining their composure, the score stayed that way until the top of the fifth when the Warriors shaved another run off the gap, using a pair of singles, a balk, and a groundout to draw within 3-2. They had the tying run on third base but Thompson struck out a batter before handing the ball over to Jason Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) who got the final out of the frame to preserve the lead.
The Mustangs had a chance to respond in decisive fashion in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with one out on three consecutive walks, but Kopra got out of the jam by striking out one batter and inducing an inning-ending flyout.
After neither team could take advantage of an error in their sixth-inning at bats, the Warriors tied the game in the seventh, nicking Karkenny with a pair of two-out hits, the first a double to left-center field and then a game-tying single up the middle.
Scoreless since their three-run first, the Mustangs went to the eighth in search of what was becoming a very elusive run. Brown led off the inning in promising fashion, drawing a walk. Moments later, he was on third base following consecutive sacrifice bunts by Bryce Clancy (Phoenix, AZ) and Sam Robison (San Juan Capistrano, CA). That brought Steve Karkenny to the plate and the junior showed why he is a first-team All-American, rapping a clutch, two-out single up the middle to score Brown with the go-ahead run.
Karkenny (5-0) made that stand up, getting two quick outs in the ninth before surrendering a single and then stranding that runner when he got a game-ending groundout.
The freshman righthander wound up going 4 1/3 innings, giving up three hits and striking out three.
His brother was the only Mustang with more than one hit, going 2-5 with the game-winning hit as the Mustangs managed a season-low-tying five hits.
The Mustangs return to GSAC action this weekend when they travel to Phoenix, Arizona, to take on Arizona Christian in a three-game series.