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Westmont Baseball Extinguishes Bethesda

(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) Westmont Baseball (14-9) defeated the Flames of Bethesda (5-13-1) this afternoon by a score of 12-9. Junior outfielder Austin Muller went two for four at the plate with four RBIs and a home run to help lead the Warriors.

Westmont head coach Robert Ruiz said, “I thought we actually came out and for 98 percent of that game played great baseball. I was really happy with their focus. I thought we played good defense. Our pitchers throughout the majority of that game did a good job of attacking hitters and getting us back in the dugout. We really tried to refresh the perspective a little bit today and give ourselves a little bit of a clean slate.”

Left-hander Bay Buckley took the mound for the Warriors. He went on to pitch three innings of one-run baseball. He conceded three hits, struck out three, and walked one. Buckley picked up the victory as the Warriors pitched by committee.

Westmont struck first in the bottom of the first. Taylor Garcia led off with a single and then stole second. Tyler Roper advanced Garcia to third on a groundout to second base. Michael Stefanic followed with an RBI triple down the right field line.

Bethesda responded in the top half of the second inning. Mario Gonzalez hit a 1-0 pitch over the center field fence for a game-tying solo home run.

The Warriors tacked on four runs in the bottom of the second. Bryce Morison reached first on a slow chopper to the second baseman – he then stole second. Travis Vander Molen grounded out to short stop – advancing Morison to the third. Garcia scored Morison on an RBI-single past the drawn in first baseman – he stole second for his second bag of the game.

Roper singled to right field scoring the speedy Garcia – Hayden Euper came on as the courtesy runner for Roper. Stefanic walked and Luke Coffey flied out to right field – Euper tagged up and took third base on the fly out. Stefanic stole second before a Zack Mendez walk to load the bases. Austin Muller singled to center field to score Euper and Stefanic – bringing the score to 5-1 in favor of the Warriors.

Westmont added another four spot in the bottom of the fourth. Roper led off the inning with a walk – Euper came on as the courtesy runner and stole second before Stefanic drew a walk. They both moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch. Coffey singled to left field to score Euper and advance Stefanic to third. Mendez hit a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Stefanic.

Muller sat back on a 1-0 curveball that he took over the left field fence for a two-run home run – for his third and fourth RBIs of the afternoon. Westmont extended their lead to 9-1 through four. Ruiz said of Muller, “I think he saw the ball better today than he has for a while. I think he did a really good job of staying patient and getting his pitch. Those two hits were in crucial situations earlier in that game. He helped us build a big enough gap so that we could be a little more comfortable. I’m excited for him. He’s worked long and hard to get where he is right now.”

Sean Coyne threw a scoreless fourth and fifth inning for the Warriors. He gave up one hit, struck out two, and walked none.

Bethesda added two in the top of the sixth. Left-hander Dylan Sund came in to pitch. With one out Tyler Rios singled to left field. Joshua Luna popped out to second base for the second out of the inning. Gonzalez followed with a single through the left side that advanced Rios to second. Myles Mendez connected for a two RBI-triple down the right field line that scored Rios and Gonzalez.

Westmont earned those two back in the bottom of the sixth. Scott Singh, who had come on as a defense replacement in the top of the inning, led off with a walk. Justin McPhail who also came on as a defensive replacement, doubled past the first baseman. Vander Molen hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Singh and advance McPhail to third. With two outs, Euper came in to pinch hit for Roper. He singled to center field to score McPhail and put the Warriors back up by eight at 11-3.

Andrew Sim threw a scoreless seventh for Westmont. Sim struck out two and walked one in his lone inning of work. Bailey Reid came on top pitch in the eighth. After conceding an infield single and a walk, Reid induced a groundout to the shortstop and a pop out to second. Two came across for the Flames after back-to-back walks and a hit by pitch. Chris Carpio roped a single up the middle to score two more. Reid gave up another walk to load the bases.

Luna singled through the left side to score two more. Lance Simpson came on in relief with two outs and runners on the first and second. Simpson struck out the first batter he faced to end the threat. Westmont continued to lead 11-9.

Westmont added a run in the bottom of the eighth. McPhail led off with a single – his second hit of the afternoon. He then stole second. With two outs, pinch hitter Henry Hedeen doubled down the right field line to score McPhail – bringing the score to 12-9 through eight innings.

“I was really impressed with Justin McPhail. He came off the bench today and got two hits. He was ready to play and help our team win. I was really excited to see that from him. Getting that hit to lead off the bottom of the eighth after giving up six and eventually scoring that run, it really took away some of the momentum from the opponent. It gave us a little more of a gap and I think that was pretty meaningful,” added Ruiz.

Simpson returned to the mound in the ninth. He hit the leadoff batter, and then settled in to strike out the second batter. With a 3-0 count Simpson threw a strike on the outside corner that the runner at first thought was ball four and took three steps towards second. Roper back picked the runner as he got stuck in no man’s land. With two outs, Simpson induced a groundout out to the shortstop for the final out of the game.

Ruiz said of his pitching staff, “I thought the large majority of the game we were way more efficient in the strike zone. We forced guys to earn what they were going to get. I think our pitchers are taking a nice stride in the right direction. They are continuing to believe in the work that they put in. I think you’re starting to see them turn a corner.”

Westmont returns to the field this weekend as they host Hope International for a three-game Golden State Athletic Conference series. Friday’s single game starts at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday’s doubleheader begins at 11:00 a.m.

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