SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – The #9 Menlo College Baseball team is currently in the middle of the dog days of April, so to speak. The term is used normally to describe how the middle months of the baseball season feel, when players start to maybe tire a little bit, and injuries can pile up. Right now, the Oaks are mired in their biggest slump of the season, and there have not been many considering the national attention this team has received. The Master's University was the team that took advantage of the slumping Oaks this weekend, sweeping a three-game series by taking the final two games on Saturday afternoon with finals of 8-2 and 7-1. Things get a lot more interesting in the conference standings after this weekend, with Menlo now 27-12 (13-7) and the Mustangs are 23-18 (13-11).
Brian Ransom got the start for the Oaks, pitching in what is essentially the third spot in the rotation, but having to start game two of the series after the makeup game against Westmont on Thursday. Ransom got the win in his first start of the season last weekend against Hope International, but would not have such luck in this outing. Ransom lasted six innings, one inning less than his first start, allowed seven hits, five runs, one walk, and six strikeouts. All things considered, it wasn't a terrible outing, but what did him in was the long ball. The Oaks pitchers are very good at not allowing homers, but Ransom allowed three in his six inning of work, and that was enough to stake the Mustangs to a 5-0 lead.
The Oaks offense couldn't get anything going until the top of the seventh inning against Mustangs starter Aaron Alexander, who wound up going the distance for the victory. Julian Jarrard led off the seventh inning with a home run to left field. Jarrard continues to flash his pop at the plate and be one of the brightest spots in the Oaks lineup. His shot got Menlo on the board and made it 5-1. Later in the inning, Menlo received a pair of free passes in the most painful of ways. Eduardo Sanchez and Peter Saldana both got hit by pitches, but the Oaks couldn't push either of the runs home. That hurt their potential momentum moving forward, as Thomas Cox came on to pitch the seventh and allowed three runs with two outs, making it 8-1.
Another leadoff home run went the way of the Oaks in the top of the eighth, this time courtesy of Joe Gillette. His first home run of the week made it 8-2, but at that point it was purely cosmetic as the game had already been decided. It would be the final hit the Oaks would manage in a game they only mustered seven. Nick Quejado and Jarrard each recorded a pair of hits in the game, while Dalton Maxwell recorded the only extra-base hit that was not a home run (a double).
Game two of the twin bill went in nearly the same fashion, though it seemed like this one might be more of a pitcher's duel at first. Julian Jarrard got the start for the Oaks, and he dazzled through his first two innings. He allowed just one hit in the first two innings, while the Oaks were able to muster two hits of their own against Mustangs starter Scott Savage. Once again, the two-out rally was key for the Mustangs in getting things going in a big way. In the bottom of the third after Jarrard induced a pair of outs, he allowed a single, a stolen base, an RBI-single, and a two-run home run to put the Mustangs up 3-0. Jarrard would wind up getting chased from the game in the bottom of the sixth inning after the Mustangs lit him up for three more runs, and yet again the long ball was a factor. Jarrard allowed a single and then back-to-back home runs, courtesy of Michael Sexton and Aaron Shackelford. With the deficit suddenly being 6-0, he was pulled for Marcus Fukuhara. He pitched the remainder of the inning and allowed one run, making it 7-0.
The only inning the Oaks put multiple hits together was the seventh inning, and it was also the inning they got their first run of the game. Jordan Getzelman hit the third leadoff home run of the day for Menlo, his 22nd of the season, making it 7-1. Jarrard hit behind Getzelman and singled up the middle, but that would be it for the Oaks, who mustered just five hits in the game. Two of those came from Jarrard, one was the homer from Getzelman, and Joe Gillette and Dalton Maxwell recorded the other knocks for the Oaks.
Menlo will put this series behind them and return to the Bay for a three-game series against one of the hottest teams in the conference, RV Biola University. The series will be played at Menlo High School on Wednesday and Thursday, with Easter weekend to follow with no baseball. Currently, the Oaks are one-half game behind RV Vanguard for the top spot in the conference, while the Mustangs, who occupy the final playoff spot, are just two games behind Menlo.