WOODSIDE, Calif. – Menlo College Baseball played its third game of the GSAC tournament on Monday afternoon and it was one for the ages. Starting nearly an hour and a half later than the regularly scheduled start time due to the lengthy preceding games, the Oaks and The Master's University Mustangs locked into an epic battle that was undoubtedly the most exciting game of a tournament filled with numerous lopsided finishes. It was a punch-and-counter punch kind of game and the final blow came in the form of a whacky play in the top of the ninth that netted the Mustang's four runs and a two run advantage that would hold. It was a gut wrenching finish in a game that was controlled by Menlo nearly the entire way, but it was the end to yet another record breaking, memorable season for the Oaks and its 15 seniors.
Menlo never once trailed in the game until the fateful top of the ninth inning. Momentum was immediately put in the Oaks' camp in the bottom of the first inning when Nick Quejado drew a leadoff walk and, with two outs, Jordan Getzelman hit a triple that scored Quejado to make it 1-0 early. A hit batter and a Reed Kienle single later and the Oaks would possess at 2-1 advantage heading into the top of the second.
The Master's managed to cut the lead in half off Menlo starter Andrew Merken in the top of the second courtesy of a Caleb Menez two-out RBI double, but Menlo would answer again in the third. That answer came in the form of Quejado's third home run of the season, a no-doubt blast to left to make it 3-1. The long ball added another run in the third when Julian Jarrard uncorked a laser-beam blast over the left field wall for his first of the day and then second of the tournament to make it 4-1.
Merken tossed up another zero in the top of the fourth and Menlo scored for the fourth consecutive inning in the bottom half of the frame. The run came when Tindall singled, and was advanced to second on an Andrew Cox sacrifice. Quejado then singled to center field and the ball was bobbled allowing Tindall to come in and score to stretch the lead to 5-1 where it would remain until the seventh.
Merken gave Menlo five strong innings in the start, allowing one run on three hits, striking out two and walking three. He gave way to relief ace Kevin George who was working for the second consecutive day and ran into some trouble in his second inning of work. A hit batter and a single put two on with no one out before George notched a huge strikeout. A wild pitch in the next at bat put runners at second and third and a ground out would push one across the plate. A Jonah Jarrard single set the state for Michael Sexton who tied the game up with one swing of the bat, a home run to right, to make it 5-5.
It seemed as though momentum had shifted into the dugout of the Master's but Julian Jarrard immediately had something to say about that. The Menlo senior shortstop dug in and took the first pitch of the at bat to deep, deep left for an absolutely no-doubt blast to give Menlo the lead once again. They added one more run later that inning on a Dean Aliamus single to center, scoring Jordan Getzelman to make it 7-5.
Cruz Daddario came on in relief and worked a clean eighth and Menlo would go quietly in the home half. That set the stage for the most improbable of comebacks in the top of the ninth.
A leadoff walk, a wild pitch and single put runners at the corners with no outs but Daddario got a big strikeout however the runner at first stole to put the tying run at second with just one out. Daddario again got a huge punch out to bring the Mustangs down to their last at bat. Sexton, who did the damage in the seventh, was up next and the Oaks elected to intentionally walk him to load the bases for Shackelford. Down to his last strike, Shackelford hit a line drive to shallow center field, Getzelman was coming on hard with hopes of making a throw to the plate to cut down the tying run, but in his effort to do so, the ball scooted under his glove and rolled all the way to the 400 foot sign in straightaway centerfield. Shackelford would come all the way around to score and the bases clearing single and error gave The Master's the 9-7 advantage which they would never relinquish. And just like that, the Oaks' hopes of running the table in the GSAC tournament came to a crashing halt.
Nick Quejado had a 2-for-4 day with two runs, an RBI and a walk and Jordan Getzelman had another great game, going 4-for-4 and coming up just a home run shy of the cycle. Julian Jarrard hit two more home runs, making it three in the tournament, and finished 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBI.
While the end of the game was a disappointment, the 2017 season was nothing short of spectacular. The Oaks finished one win away from tying the program record that was set last season, finished the year with the most home runs in the country (97) and the most of any Menlo team in program history. They also garnered a host of postseason awards and accolades and finished the seventh consecutive winning season and third consecutive with thirty or more wins. Additionally they earned the highest national ranking in program history during the campaign. Congratulations to all on another phenomenal campaign.