TMU’s Anthony Lepre, right, heads toward the dugout at The Hangar in Lancaster on Saturday after hitting a home run. Photo courtesy Tony Berru/TMU Athletics

TMU Insider: Vikings baseball product locked in

Master’s senior Anthony Lepre, a Valencia High graduate, had a decisive impact on last week’s baseball series against a nationally ranked opponent. Just ask his teammates.

“The past two days, he’s been pretty insane,” said senior Robert Winslow, a Saugus High grad who threw a complete-game three-hitter Saturday.

Said senior Aaron Shackelford, “Anthony’s locked in. He barrels everything. I thought he was going to hit a home run every time he stepped in the box today.”

Lepre, who transferred from UC Riverside to Master’s before the season, went 10-for-18 with four home runs and eight RBIs last week in TMU’s four-game sweep of the University of Antelope Valley, the NAIA’s No. 7-ranked squad.

At one point, the senior catcher homered in three straight at-bats. In one game, he finished a single short of the cycle.

Friday, after he launched a ball over the right-field fence at TMU in the seventh inning and then did the same, but to left, an inning later, Lepre was quick to shift the focus off himself.

“Yeah, I hit the ball out,” he said, “but the best thing is winning and doing it for the Lord.”

It was all part of a stirring four games where the Mustangs won by scores of 9-6, 12-1, 17-15 and 9-0, tallying 11 home runs and enough hits to bust the bottom out of a box score.

Shackelford hit three home runs in the series, the last giving him 35 in his Mustang career, the program’s new all-time record.

Shackelford’s father, Rod, retrieved the ball from behind the right-field wall at The Hangar in Lancaster and presented it to coach Monte Brooks.

In a postgame team meeting, Brooks pulled the ball out of his jacket pocket and gave it to Shackelford, who ultimately gifted the ball back to his dad.

Another key factor in the series was Saugus grad Roy Verdejo. Verdejo went 7-for-16 with two home runs and seven RBIs.

Master’s will host the University of British Columbia on Thursday (2 p.m.), Friday (2 p.m.) and Saturday (11 a.m. doubleheader) at TMU.

Basketball teams in position for titles

The Master’s University men’s and women’s basketball teams have both positioned themselves to contend for Golden State Athletic Conference titles this month.

Particularly, the women, who are 22-4 overall and 14-1 in GSAC play.

The No. 5-ranked Lady Mustangs – who will host the University of Saint Katherine at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a non-conference game at TMU – hold a 2 ½ game lead in conference standings with three games to play. A win Saturday night at Westmont College would secure at least a share of the program’s first-ever GSAC regular season title. Master’s beat Westmont, 58-48, at TMU on Jan. 12.

To do it again would mean making history.

TMU’s men (21-5, 10-4 in GSAC) have less control over their path to a title. The No. 7-ranked Mustangs trail Vanguard University by half a game with four to play.

Master’s will play at Westmont on Saturday before taking on Life Pacific, Vanguard and Hope International down the stretch.

The Mustangs will host No. 4 Vanguard at TMU on Feb. 23, and Hope will come to town on Feb. 28. Both are 7:30 p.m. starts.

Swim heads into conference championship

TMU swim and dive will take part in the Pacific Collegiate Swimming and Diving Conference Championships this week.

The Mustangs will compete against the likes of Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount at SPLASH! La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center in La Mirada from Wednesday to Saturday.

Master’s has already qualified two women’s relays for NAIA nationals: the 200-yard medley relay (2 minutes, 3.37 seconds) and the 200-freestyle relay (1:50.53) – but the hope is that individuals will also qualify.

Caroline Barnett, who was named a conference Swimmer of the Week last month, could qualify in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 butterfly.

For more information on The Master’s University Athletic Department, visit GoMustangs.com.

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