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MASTER’S BASEBALL PREVIEW : Deep Mustang Lineup Faces an Early Test in Opener Against CSLA

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

The Master’s College baseball team made the NAIA District 3 playoffs for the first time last season with a lineup that batted .309 and averaged 8 runs a game.

An impressive showing, especially when one considers that the Mustangs reached the postseason party with a pitching staff that compiled a 7.67 earned-run average.

Master’s Coach Pat Harrison said that his team will be improved in both departments this season, which begins at 2 this afternoon with a game at Cal State Los Angeles.

“We’ve got more depth in our position players and our pitching staff,” said Harrison, who replaced John Zeller last season. “That makes me think we should have a pretty good club.”

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The Mustangs lost 8 seniors from a team that finished 24-26 overall, 13-9 in district play and lost to Westmont in the playoffs.

Cal State L. A. is one of 5 NCAA Division II opponents that the Mustangs, a member of the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics, will play as part of a 46-game schedule. Master’s also will play Division I power Cal State Fullerton.

“I think it’s positive for the guys to play against upper-division teams,” said Harrison, who was an All-American infielder at USC and played 2 seasons in the Dodger minor league system. "(Former USC Coach Rod) Dedeaux always took teams and threw them in the water to see if they could float. I think that’s a good philosophy.”

Junior left-hander Eric Schumaker, a transfer from Rio Hondo Junior College, is expected to anchor the pitching staff and also bat cleanup. Junior left-hander Jeff Cole and freshman right-hander John March also will be used as starting pitchers, and junior right-hander Ray Cartagena will begin the season as the No. 1 reliever.

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“We don’t have anyone who’s going to strike out a lot of people,” Harrison said, “but we have a lot of people with good control.”

It might be difficult to control Mustang hitters despite the loss of Todd Skinner (.372 and 46 runs batted in) and Jeff Holen (.335, 11 home runs, 48 RBIs). Peter Wilson, a sophomore transfer from Tennessee Temple, will replace Skinner at third base and Jeff Preston, who redshirted last season, will replace Holen at first.

Shortstop Mark MacArthur, a junior who batted .325 and had 5 home runs and 47 RBIs, is the team’s top returning player. Sophomore Darren Beck, who batted .291 and had 10 RBIs last season, will start in the outfield along with Dan Bevins, a transfer from Napa Valley Junior College. Cole will start in the outfield when not pitching.

Junior catcher Jeff Lane (.254, 24 RBIs) will split time with sophomore Tony Jaime.

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