May 29, 2017
Lewiston, Idaho -- Faced with elimination for the sixth time in the 2017 postseason, The Master's University used the long ball and superb pitching to stay alive in the Avista-NAIA World Series Monday afternoon with a 9-2 victory over Keiser of Florida.
The win moved the Mustangs (41-22) into another elimination game tomorrow against top-ranked and No. 1 seed Oklahoma City, a loser to Lewis-Clark St. (Idaho) in a game of tournament unbeatens Monday evening.
Familiar with must-win situations in the month of May, notably in the GSAC Tournament, the Mustangs thrived once again, following the lead of Jonah Jarrard, Michael Sexton, and Robert Winslow. Jarrard and Sexton homered and drove in four runs apiece while Winslow tossed five strong innings.
Winslow, making his first World Series start, was superb over the first three innings, retiring the first eight batters he faced before watching Reyni Olivero, the first Seahawk baserunner, get gunned down at second base on a steal attempt to end the third.
However, the sophomore righthander lost his command in the fourth, giving up two hits and a walk, and throwing two wild pitches as the Seahawks claimed a 2-0 lead.
As they have done so often in the postseason, the Mustangs answered quickly in the last half of the frame, halving the deficit on a Sexton leadoff home run over the left field fence. It was the senior's team-leading 17th homer of the season.
Winslow responded with a shutdown top of the fifth and then retired to the bench to watch his teammates put him in a position to win the game in the last half of the inning.
Caleb Menez led off the frame with a single to shallow left field and one out later moved up 90 feet on a Matt Janes' base hit. Max Maitland then doubled down the right field line, bringing home Menez with the tying run. Moments later, Jarrard unknotted the 2-2 tie with a three-run homer over the left field fence to give the Mustangs a 5-2 lead. The junior catcher's blast was his 13th of the year.
Danny Lutz came out of the bullpen for Winslow (9-5) in the sixth and began four dominant innings of relief with a 1-2-3 frame.
That seemed to lift the spirits of his offensive teammates, who capitalized on the wildness of two Seahawk relievers and a huge Sexton hit in a decisive four-run sixth that put the game out of reach. All the runs scored after two were out.
Pearson Good kept the inning alive with a single through the right side and promptly swiped second base. He moved to third after Janes walked and Maitland was hit by a pitch, and then jogged home when Jarrard drew a bases-loaded walk for a 6-2 advantage. Then Sexton stepped to the plate and lined a double to deep, right-center field that cleared the bases for a 9-2 lead.
Armed with plenty of breathing room, Lutz kept Keiser in check the rest of the way, retiring the Seahawks in order in the seventh and ninth innings, respectively, and wiggling out of a jam in the eighth when he got an inning-ending double play. Lutz' superb outing earned him his third save of the season.
Jarrard (2-for-4) and Sexton (3-for-5) combined for five hits and eight rbi to lead the Mustang offense. Good added two hits as the Mustangs outhit the Seahawks 11-6.
With the victory, the Mustangs' pursuit of a national championship gets even tougher against an Oklahoma City squad coming off a heartbreaking, 8-7 loss to defending national champion and tournament host Lewis-Clark State. The Mustangs and Stars, who are undefeated against TMU in three previous meetings, will tangle at 3:00pm on Tuesday.