FULLERTON — Westmont Baseball (10-3, 1-1 GSAC), ranked 13th in the NAIA, kicked off Golden State Athletic Conference play with a doubleheader at No. 10 Hope International (9-2, 1-1) on Friday.
The Warriors fell 3-2 in the early game, then won the second by a score of 2-0.
The first game started with a pitcher’s duel between Westmont’s Bryan Peck and Hope’s Connor Martin. Through five innings of play, Martin had allowed just two hits, while Peck had given up just one.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Royals’ Mylan Jones reached third base with two outs, threatening to score the first run of the game. Matthew Pinal hit a slow roller to second that could easily have resulted in an RBI-infield hit. However, Brady Renck charged the ball, fielded it barehanded and made the throw to first while diving to the ground.
“Brady made an unreal play to save a run,” assessed Westmont head coach Tyler LaTorre.
In the bottom of the sixth, however, Hope strung together two doubles and a single to score two runs and would later push across an unearned run to take a 3-0 lead.
Westmont scored once in the top of the seventh without getting a hit. Bryce McFeely led off with a walk, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Shane Hostradler was then hit by a pitch. One out later, Justin Rodriguez walked to load the bases. McFeely then scored from third on an RBI-groundout by Michael Soper.
The only other run of the game came in the top of the eighth when Renck drove a solo home run over the right field fence.
Bryan Peck was charged with his first loss of the year. He pitched six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits. He struck out four and walked one.
“Bryan pitched well,” noted Westmont head coach Tyler LaTorre. “He set the tone early, but we didn’t get anything going with the bats much at all today. In the sixth inning he had a couple of hard-hit balls but pitched out of it. I was happy with how he attacked the zone. We just didn’t give him offensive support so he had to feel every pitch mattered and there was no leeway.”
It was more of the same in the second game, which was scheduled for seven innings. Eric Oseguera took the mound for the Warriors and Hector Garcia for the Royals. Through six scoreless innings, the teams had combined for just four hits.
“Osy was being Osy,” said LaTorre of his pitcher. “He pitched into a little bit of trouble but picked a guy off. He just gets outs. He bears down when he needs to and keeps hitters off balance. He wills his way to putting up quality innings for us.”
In the bottom of the sixth, with one man on first and two away, Gabe Arteaga was called upon to take over for Oseguera. The Warrior reliever threw just one pitch, coaxing Omar Veloz to ground to second base where the runner was retired to end the inning.
Robbie Haw led off the top of the seventh with a double down the right field line.
“Robbie had a tough day at the plate, but like our whole entire team, he didn’t lose faith,” added LaTorre. “For him to get a two-strike, lead-off double is a testament to who Robbie Haw is as an individual and how important he is to our team.”
One out later, McFeely singled to center field, driving in Haw. On the throw to the plate, McFeely raced for second. The ball went back into center field and McFeely got up and safely reached third. Then, David Martinez stepped to the plate and drove the first pitch into right field to drive in McFeely.
“It was a great at bat by McFeely to drive in Haw to take the lead,” offered LaTorre. “Bryce is a hard-nose player and went to second base. Both teams played well defensively all day, but we took advantage of a ball bouncing off a glove to get Bryce to third. Then, D-Mart drove him in with a base hit. That is Warrior baseball. The little things add up to a big insurance run.”
Carlos Moreno came in to close out the seventh for the Warriors. Though he walked one and hit a batter with a pitch, he completed the shared shutout and recorded his second save of the season.
Arteaga, with his one pitch, was awarded the win, his first of the year.
The Warriors and Royals will go at it again tomorrow in another doubleheader in Fullerton. The first game will count as the rubber match of the three-game conference series. The second game will be played as a non-conference game. First pitch is at 11 o’clock.