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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 1:57 pm | Partly Cloudy 64º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

Michael Stefanic Powers Westmont Past The Master’s

Michael Stefanic went 3 for 3 with three runs scored and an RBI while Tyler Roper was 3 for 4 with two RBI as NAIA No. 25 Westmont Baseball (31-14, 23-11 GSAC) pounded the Mustangs of The Master's (24-21, 16-18) on the opening day of a three-game Golden State Athletic Conference series at Russ Carr Field.

The Warriors outslugged the Mustangs 15-6 including doubles by Luke Coffey, Robert Mendez and Justin McPhail and a three-run home run by Henry Hedeen.

Grant Gardner earned his eighth win of the year by pitching six innings while giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits. Gardner struck out five and allowed just one walk. 

The Mustangs' Preston White was charged with the loss after giving up eight runs (four earned) on nine hits. White struck out four and walked two in three and one-third innings pitched. 

The Warriors got on the board early with two runs in the bottom of the first. With one away, Tyler Roper produced a single through the right side that deflected off the outstretched glove of the Mustangs' second baseman. After Hayden Euper replaced Roper as a courtesy runner, Stefanic drove a low line drive over the first base bag. The result was a single that advanced Euper to third. 

Coffey stepped to the plate and doubled off the right field wall to drive in Euper and move Stefanic to third. Two pitches later, White was called for a balk, allowing Stefanic to score.

The Master's scored a single unearned run in the top of the third inning, aided by three Warrior miscues, to make the score 2-1

Westmont more than made up for the run by producing three of its own in the bottom half of the third. After a lead-off single by Taylor Garcia, Roper reached on a fielder's choice that saw Garcia take second on a Mustang's error. With Euper courtesy running for Roper, Stefanic singled to load the bases for Coffey. Coffey grounded to third and Garcia was thrown out at the plate. The relay to first, however, pulled Master's first baseman Pearson Good off the base, leaving the bases loaded with one away.

Henry Hedeen picked up an RBI on a five-pitch walk making the score 3-1. One out later, Bryce Morison singled to right to drive in Stefanic and Coffey.

Westmont added three more in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Travis Vander Molen battled through 10 pitches to earn a walk. Garcia then singled into left. A wild pitch moved the runners up to second and third, setting up Roper who drove a two-RBI single up the middle. After Euper, again running for Roper, advanced to second on a passed ball, Stefanic drove him in with a single up the middle.

The Master's picked up its second run in the top of the sixth on a RBI-single by Kameron Quitno that drove in Kam Kilchrist. Kilchrist had reached on a lead-off double down the left field line.

In the bottom of the sixth, Westmont tacked on four more. With one out, Roper singled to center and Euper ran for him. Stefanic was walked on four pitches before a wild pitch put both runners in motion. An attempt to throw out Euper at third ended up with the ball in the left field corner. Euper scored on the error and Stefanic reached third. After Coffey was walked, Hedeen drilled the ball over the right field fence to put the Warriors on top 12-2. 

Westmont's final two runs came in the bottom of the eighth. Mendez hit a lead-off, pinch-hit double to left. McPhail followed with an RBI-double down the left field line. After Scott Singh earned a six-pitch walk, Alex Stufft replaced Hedeen as the designated hitter and singled to load the bases.  One out later, Devin Perez reached on a fielder choice that saw McPhail score from third.

As a result of the win, Westmont has clinched the number two seed in the upcoming GSAC Tournament and guaranteed itself at least a tie for second place in the standings. The Warriors currently have a two-game lead over third place Vanguard (27-22-1, 21-13) with two games remaining in the regular season. 

The GSAC Tournament begins on Monday, April 30 at Vanguard in Costa Mesa.

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