The Master’s College threw its biggest punches against Sterling College of Kansas in the 2016 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series on Monday.
But Sterling’s Gerard Ceballos hit a two-run home run in the first inning and another two-run homer in the final frame to propel the Warriors past The Master’s College, 9-7, and eliminate the Mustangs from the World Series.
TMC battled back from a third-inning, four-run deficit, but couldn’t hang on to a two-run lead late in the game.
The Mustangs finished their season with a 42-19 mark.
“We had to enjoy the moment and push one another,” Brooks said of the elimination game. “This team is a very committed group of players who will hold each other accountable and encourage one another. It was a privilege to coach them.”
Ceballos finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs and a walk. He catapulted the Warriors (52-15) to a 3-0 lead in the first inning before the Mustangs gained momentum in the middle innings.
“We let a few pitches get away, and they capitalized and they got the best of us,” Brooks said.
Mustang shortstop Brandon Van Horn responded to Ceballos’ shot with a two-run homer, his 11th of the season, in the bottom of the third to cut the deficit to 4-2. David Sheaffer’s RBI sacrifice-fly capped TMC’s three-run third inning.
The momentum continued as Mustangs Jason Karkenny pitched two shutout innings in the fourth and fifth frames.
TMC tied the score, 4-4, in the sixth when Jonah Jarrard scored from second on an error.
“We’ve always felt like we can win pitches, and we felt that if we just take it a pitch at a time, we have the ability to be effective,” Brooks said. “So they just continued to believe.”
Sterling regained the lead, 5-4, in the top of the seventh when Aaron Stubblefield took home as teammate Beau Kallas stole second base.
But Michael Sexton sparked a three-run bottom of the seventh with a leadoff home run, his 17th homer of the season, to give TMC a 7-5 lead, its first lead of the game.
The Warriors tied it up, 7-7, in the top of the eighth, before Gerard Ceballos’ two-run shot in the top of the ninth proved to be the dagger.
Van Horn, Hart High graduate Pearson Good and Collin Nyenhuis all drove in a run, and Sexton and Sheaffer each recorded two hits with a double and an RBI.
Karkenny pitched 7 2/3 innings with five strikeouts, two walks and seven runs off 11 hits.
“It was a great game to watch, and (it was) a phenomenal season for the baseball program,” Brooks said.