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Westmont Baseball Takes Two in Season Opener

(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) Westmont Baseball (2-0) opened up their season today with two victories over first-year program Ottawa (Ariz.) (0-2). Westmont took the first game 6-2 and finished the seven-inning game with a 5-0 victory.

Westmont head coach Robert Ruiz said, “I thought our guys did a good job of competing – we said we’re going to hang our hat on that. I felt like we competed throughout the day – all 16 innings.”

Senior captain David Gaydos took the mound to start the year for the Warriors. He struck out the first batter he faced. Ruiz said, “One thing I know I’m going to get with Gaydos every time he steps on the mound is consistency. I’m going to get consistency in his poise, demeanor, competitiveness, and his ability to give our team a chance to win.”

Ottawa struck first in the top of the fourth. Adrian Salazar singled through the left side to lead off the inning – and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Braxton Smith was thrown out at first on a sacrifice bunt that moved Salazar to third. Esteban Martinez scored Salazar on an RBI groundout to second base.

Westmont responded in the bottom half of the fourth. Luke Coffey walked with one out. Isaiah Leach singled and advanced Coffey to second. Travis Vander Molen walked to load the bases. Bryce Morison picked up the first Warrior RBI of the season when he was hit by a pitch and tied the score at one a piece.

Gaydos, who struggled to find feel for his secondary pitches, was finished after five innings. He picked up the first win of the season for the Warriors after scattering six hits and giving up one run. He was relieved by right-hander Andrew Sim – who made quick work of Ottawa in the sixth. He induced a fly out, walked a batter, struck out one, and got Martinez to groundout to finish his lone inning of relief.

The Warriors scored two in the bottom of the fifth when Coffey brought home Hayden Euper on a sacrifice fly, and Leach singled in Taylor Bush.

Westmont padded their lead with three more runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Warriors had men on first and second after a walk and hit by pitch. Todd Yost bunted to sacrifice the runners over, and Ottawa’s pitcher bobbled the ball awarding a bases-loaded, no-out opportunity to Westmont. Zack Mendez came in as a pinch-hitter and grounded out to first scoring pinch runner Taylor Garcia. Bush hit a line drive over the shortstop’s head to score the second run. Michael Stefanic’s single scored Bush to finish the three-run inning.

Left-hander Bay Buckley came in and earned the first save of the year. He pitched three innings of one-run relief to finish out the game. He finished with two strikeouts on the afternoon. With two outs in the top of the ninth, a sharply hit groundball was sent in Coffey’s direction at third base. He booted the ball, kicked it and then looked up and saw that Hayden Durkiewicz had rounded second too far. Coffey back picked Durkiewicz to get the final out of the game.

The Warrior offense in the second game came out ready from the beginning. Ruiz said, “To go win the first game, it would have been really easy to sit back on our heels.”

Bush, attempting to drag bunt for a hit, reached on an error by Ottawa’s starting pitcher Travis Hawkins. Stefanic was hit by a pitch. Coffey then doubled down the left field line scoring Bush and advancing Stefanic to third. Stefanic raced for home when Henry Hedeen hit a chopper to first. Ottawa’s first baseman elected to attempt to throw out Stefanic, but the catcher dropped the ball and he slid in safely for the second run of the inning.

Toby Dunlap started game two for the Warriors. He shut down Ottawa’s lineup with a strong six-inning performance. He gave up only two hits and struck out six as he picked up the win. Ruiz said, “I told Toby after the game that I felt like he took the team on his back. He really set the tone for who we were going to be in game two today.”

Westmont added a run in the third when Hedeen scored Leach on a sacrifice fly.

Stefanic, again, was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning. This brought up Coffey who hammered a 0-0 pitch over the 375 sign in center field for a two-run homerun. This brought the game to its final score of 5-0.

Bailey Reid pitched a scoreless seventh for Westmont to finish off the victory. Westmont used three double plays and a caught stealing to face the minimum 21 batters. “I thought Tyler Roper did an excellent job behind the plate. He had good energy and focus,” added Ruiz. “That runner he threw out was a big momentum killer for the other side.

“To win the opening doubleheader on your field is a good feeling. At the end of the day, we’re competing to win games,” said Ruiz. “Ultimately, I thought our starters did a really good job on the mound. We got it done in the bullpen, we weren’t great, but we got it done. I’m excited to see who we are tomorrow – hopefully, a little better version of ourselves.”

Westmont continues their four-game series against Ottawa with a doubleheader tomorrow. First-pitch is scheduled for 11:00 a.m.

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