Statistically speaking, the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma checked all the boxes of a dominant baseball team.
The Drovers hit for average. They hit for power. They pitch. They play defense better than most.
In Friday’s NAIA World Series opener, they ran into a team too hot to handle.
The Master’s University won its 10th straight postseason game, beating the Drovers, 7-3, at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho, to remain in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination, 10-team tournament.
How did the Mustangs (40-21) manage to carry over momentum from last week’s Opening Round tournament to Friday?
“Honestly, we’re such a relaxed group of guys,” said catcher Jonah Jarrard, who went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs. “We just have fun wherever we go and find the joy out of everything. Every time we have the chance to step on that ball field, we’re loose and having fun.”
After starting the year 15-17, the Mustangs have won 25 of 29. Few against a team with the resume of Science and Arts (44-16).
The Drovers boast the sixth best team batting average in the nation (.352) and the fourth best slugging percentage (.568).
Its team ERA is third best nationwide (3.19), boosted by Friday’s starter Francis Ventura, owner of a 1.64 ERA.
The Mustangs got to him for seven runs on nine hits over seven innings. Four of the runs came in the second inning, where Pearson Good, Ryan Bricker and Jarrard had RBIs.
First baseman David Sheaffer was 2-for-4.
Mustang starter Jason Karkenny continued his impressive return from an arm injury.
The senior righty went seven innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits. He struck out nine and walked two.
The start came on the heels of a complete-game, one-run effort in the NAIA Opening Round clincher on May 17, his second outing since March 25.
“Yeah, there (today) was the Jason we once knew, and it’s a blessing to have him healthy,” said TMU coach Monte Brooks. “It was a phenomenal performance. ‘Lutzy,’ too. They pitched fantastically.”
Righty Danny Lutz closed the game out with two strong innings. The first two Drovers to bat in the top of the ninth reached base. But Lutz induced a fly out and two strikeouts to send TMU to a matchup with No. 2 seed Faulkner of Alabama today at 3 p.m.