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Gaydos, Sanders Outstanding in Westmont Wins

(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) Westmont allowed just one earned run over both games of a doubleheader as the Warriors posted wins of 8-0 and 7-2 over Arizona Christian.

David Gaydos started the first game for the Warriors and picked up his fifth win of the season against three losses. Gaydos pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits while producing two strikeouts.

"We got great starting pitching all weekend with all three of them being on short rest," said Westmont head coach Robert Ruiz speaking of series starters Gaydos, Grant Gardner and Justin Sanders. "I was really proud of the way they competed for us. They gave us a chance to win all weekend and preserved our bullpen enough so that in the most meaningful moments we were able to go to guys that were fresh.

"Gaydos has been working hard to get himself back into a rhythm and help our team have a chance to win. Today, he battled through a tiny bit of adversity. He continued to make pitches. He had his breaking ball going today. When he has that, he can be really tough. He was poised and looked like himself. If that is who he is going to be, we are going to have a chance to win every time."

"My job was to go out there and fill up the strike zone and I was able to do that," said Gaydos. "At the beginning of the year, I got out of my game plan and what I knew I was able to do. These last few weeks, I put in the work at practice and said, 'God take over.' I trusted my stuff and good things have happened. First and foremost, my faith has been strong."

Bay Buckley pitched the last two innings, allowing just one hit.

"Bay was great today too," said Ruiz. "He hasn't pitched in a couple of weeks and we have been telling him that his time was going to come soon. We have been getting good starting pitching so we haven't had to use so many guys. He did a really good job of finishing those two innings and preserving the rest of the pen for the third game. I'm proud of the way he came out and competed today."

Designated hitter Taylor Garcia got things started for the Warriors in the first inning with a lead-off single to center field. Catcher Tyler Roper moved Garcia to second on a sacrifice fly before second baseman Michael Stefanic came up to bat. Stefanic hit a hard ground ball to first that took a sharp left turn and found its way into right field. Garcia was able to score from second on the play. Luke Coffey provided a triple to center field to drive in Stefanic and give the Warriors a 2-0 lead.

Travis Vander Molen led off the bottom of the second inning with a single to center field and then advanced to second on a ground out by Garcia. One out later, Stefanic walked to give the Warriors runners at first and second with two away.

Coffey drove the ball into right center field where it bounced off the top half of the outfield fence. Vander Molen scored on the play and Stefanic reached third. However, Coffey was thrown out trying to stretch the at bat into a double.

The Warriors' four-run sixth innings started with a single into right field by Austin Muller. An infield single by left fielder Henry Hedeen allowed Muller to reach third base, giving Westmont runners on the corners. Center fielder Bryce Morison executed a squeeze bunt down the first-base line that scored Muller from third, moved Hedeen to second and netted Morison a sacrifice bunt.

Shortstop Todd Yost stepped to the plate next and singled through the right side, moving Hedeen to third. The brought an end to Arizona Christian starter Trevor McGee's day. McGee, who would be tagged with the loss, pitched five and one-third innings, allowing six runs on eight hits.

Zach Mendez pitch hit for Vander Molen and centered up the middle to drive in Hedeen and move Yost to second base. Mendez and Yost each moved up a base on a double-steal before Garcia singled to center to bring Yost home. Mendez took third on the play.

Roper attempted another squeeze play, but Mendez was thrown out at the plate for the second out of the inning. After Hayden Euper courtesy ran for Roper, Stefanic was hit by a pitch to load the bases with Warriors. A single by Coffey, deep into the hole at short, allowed Garcia to score the final run of the inning and gave Westmont a 7-0 lead.

Arizona threatened when center fielder Michael Dunnebecke tripled to lead off the top of the seventh. After first baseman Marco Castilla walked, Dunnebecke was thrown out at the plate when a pitch from Gaydos got away from Roper. The ball, however, was just 12 feet from the plate and Roper was able to retrieve it and throw it to Gaydos at home. Gaydos applied the tag to Dunnebecke to keep the Firestorm scoreless.

Westmont tacked on one more run in the bottom of the eighth. Vander Molen hit a lead-off double to center field and advanced to third on a single by Garcia. Euper, pinch hitting for Roper, brought Vander Molen home with a sacrifice fly to center field.

The second game saw the Warriors score three times in the first inning without a hit. After Garcia received a lead-off walk, centerfielder William Hoyer-Pingle successfully executed a sacrifice bunt to advance Garcia to second. Back-to-back-to-back walks to Stefanic, Coffey and Muller resulted in Garcia scoring and Firestorm starter Cam Sharp being removed from the game in favor of reliever Tony Pins.

One out later, Yost reached on a fielder's choice as Arizona Christian's infielder attempted to retire Muller at second. However, Muller was ruled to be safe as Stefanic and the Coffey scored.

The Firestorm scored their first run of the day in the top of the third inning. With two away, catcher Nash Gowin reached on an error and advanced to second base. With Brent Smith serving as a courtesy runner for Gowin, Dom Rodriguez drove in Smith with a single to left.

Westmont scored in the bottom of the third to regain a three-run lead. Stefanic led off with a line drive to left field that jumped the fence for a ground rule double. Stefanic later stole third before Brody Weiss, pinch hitting for Hedeen, produced an RBI-single to center.

In the bottom of the third, Westmont added three more runs to go ahead 6-1. With one away, Garcia and Hoyer-Pingle were successively walked. A wild pitch moved both runners move up one base before Stefanic singled to drive in both runners. Stefanic advanced to second on the unsuccessful throw to the plate.

After Coffey was walked, Stefanic was thrown out attempting to steal third for the second out of the inning. Muller was then walked, moving Coffey over to second. An error allowed Coffey to score.

A lead-off double by Gowin in the sixth inning would lead to an Arizona Christian run – the only earned run allowed by Warrior pitching in either game. Left fielder Cohen Heckethorn drove the ball down the right-field line to record the RBI single.

Justin Sanders (5-1) earned the win for the Warriors. Sanders pitched five-plus innings allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits. He struck out four without surrendering a walk.

"Justin filled the starting roll midway through the season when Toby (Dunlap) went down," said Ruiz. "We haven't skipped a beat. He has been ultracompetitive in that role. It was a great start by him."

Lance Simpson entered the game in the sixth inning with runners on the corners and no outs. Simpson retired six batters in a row to preserve the Warriors win.

"Lance was phenomenal out of the bullpen today," offered Ruiz. "He has been a leader for us in the back end of the bullpen all year. He's done as good a job in terms of being consistent as we could expect. He came into a situation with the best hitters in their lineup and two runners on and did an exceptional job to not give up any runs. Then he carried that momentum into the seventh. I'm proud of the way he carried us at the back of the game. They started to get a little bit of momentum and he really stopped that, which was really good to see."

The Warriors will next take the field on Tuesday, April 3 for a rain make-up game at The Master's. First pitch is at 3:00 p.m.

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