Westmont Baseball (32-5, 20-4) swept a doubleheader on Saturday to claim a 3-1 series win over the Spirit (14-21, 6-13) of Ottawa (Ariz.). The Warriors won the first game by a score of 5-2 then prevailed in the second 6-4.
“It was great to see the team respond after a less than desired performance yesterday,” said Westmont head coach Robert Ruiz. I thought we got a performance out of our starters and our bullpen and we were more competitive at the plate.”
Brady Renck put the Warriors up 1-0 in the bottom of the first with his team-leading 10th home run of the season. Renck cleared the right-field fence with a no-doubter.
Bradley Heacock, the Warriors’ starting pitcher, worked his way out of jam in the top of the second. After back-to-back singles from Nathan Tarver and Griffin Hagen put runners on first and second with no outs, Brian Camacho laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third.
Anastacio Salas hit a sharp ground ball to third which deflected off of Ryan Desaegher’s glove, over to Robbie Haw at short. Haw snagged the ricochet in time to redirect it to first to retire Salas, leaving the runners at second and third. Then, Heacock persuaded Jacob Griffin to fly out to left to end the inning.
In the top of the third, the Spirit scored twice to take a 2-1 advantage. With one away, Adrian Salazar singled through the 3-4 hole. One out later, Casey Downs doubled down the left field line, advancing Salazar to third. Tarver then produced a two-RBI single to right.
In a wild bottom of the third, Westmont pushed three runs across the plate. The inning started with Haw at the plate, sending a shot to deep right-center field. Spirit center fielder TD Walker sprinted toward right and made a leaping attempt. The ball went into his glove but popped out when he crashed against the fence. Haw found himself on second with a double.
Renck was walked putting men on first and second, then, one out later, both runners moved up a station on a wild pitch to Thomas Rudinsky. The Warriors’ catcher struck out, but the ball hit the dirt and escaped the Spirit’s catcher. Haw dashed for home and slid underneath the pitcher’s tag to tie the game at two. Renck took third on the play and Rudinsky headed for first. When the throw went to the plate, Rudinsky scampered toward second. The throw from the Spirit’s catcher went into centerfield, allowing Renck to score, giving the Warriors a 3-2 lead.
“I told Rudi that was an great strikeout,” quipped Ruiz.
Paul Mezurashi replaced Rudinsky as a courtesy runner and, with two away, stole third. That put Mezurashi in position to score on Justin Rodriquez’ bloop-single to center and give the Warriors a 4-2 lead
Neither team scored again until Westmont added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Mezurashi, who had played the top half of the inning in center field, led off and was walked, bring up Finn Snyder. With the count 1-1, Snyder squared to bunt, but was hit by the ball when it was deflected off the bat. Snyder was unable to continue and was replaced by Parker O’Neil who saw only one pitch – a called strike for the first out of the inning.
Desaegher then doubled down the left field line, advancing Mezurashi to third. With one away, Ruiz called for a squeeze play, which Haw executed with a sacrifice bunt down the first base line that allowed Mezurashi to score.
Heacock (7-2) picked up the win with six innings of work in which he allowed two runs on seven hits. The right-hander struck out five and walked one. Cameron Phelps pitched two scoreless innings in relief, allowing just one hit and striking out one without surrendering a walk.
Carlos Moreno earned his fifth save of the season by pitching the ninth. After striking out the first two batters he faced, Moreno gave up a single, then hit the next batter with a pitch. Moreno then took on Downs who blooped a ball into short center field. Haw made an over-the-shoulder catch to end the threat and the game.
An exciting top of the first in game two concluded with a play at the plate. After retiring the first two batters, Westmont starter Chad Stoner, Jr. walked Downs. Tarver then doubled to right center with the ball reaching the fence. Rudinsky retrieved the ball on the warning track and sent it to the infield where Rego was waiting near the mound. Rego fired a dart to Simon Reid at home as Downs barreled toward the plate. Reid applied the tag, preventing the score and ending the inning.
However, the Spirit scored a run in the top of the second to take a 1-0 lead. With two outs and runners on the corners, Randall Hutson hit a ground ball toward the 3-4 hole. Rego dove right, but the ball glanced off his glove for a single, scoring Lustig from third.
Westmont took over the lead in the bottom half of the third on a three-run home run by Rego. Rego’s blast, which cleared the center field fence over the 375 marker, drove in Renck from third and Schraeder from second. Renck had reached on a single and Schraeder was a courtesy runner for Reid who had walked.
OUAZ tied the game at three in the top of the fifth when Tarver drove a two-RBI triple down the left field line, scoring Downs and Salazar. Tarver then scored on a Warrior error in left field, producing a Spirit 4-3 lead.
The lead would not last long. Reid doubled into the left field corner to lead off the bottom of the second, where he once again gave way to Schraeder to run in his stead. Rudinsky singled through the right side, bringing Schraeder home and tying the score at four.
After reliever Zach Yates came in and pitched a three-up, three-down top of the sixth, Westmont scored the final two runs of the game in the bottom half of the inning. With one away, Desaegher doubled down the left field line. Then with two outs, Renck came to the plate. After three straight balls to begin the at-bat, Renck was intentionally walk, bring up Reid.
It appeared that the inning would come to an end when Reid hit the ball up the middle but, right at Salazar who was shifted from the normal shortstop position. However, the mishandled grounder resulted in everyone reaching safely, leaving the bases loaded for Rudinsky. The senior from Portland responded by shooting the ball down the left field line for a two-RBI double, leaving the Warriors three outs away from a victory.
After Camacho reached on a lead-off single, Ruiz made a pitching change. Haw moved from short to the mound with Renck taking over at short and Parker O’Neil moving to second. Michael Welikala entered to fill the void in left.
Haw retired pinch hitter Calvin Colon-Baez on a deep fly to center field, then struck out Tarver to record the second out. Haw then struck out Lustig to end the game. Haw picked up his third save of the season.
Yates (1-0) was awarded the win. He pitched one-plus inning, allowing one hit but no runs. He struck out one and did not issued a walk. Stoner was charged with four run (three earned), on eight hits. Stoner struck out three and walked one.
With the two wins, Westmont regained a two-game lead in the Golden State Athletic Conference standings over #9 Vanguard (33-6, 16-4) and #15 Hope International (28-8, 16-4) who are tied for second. The Warriors have eight games remaining in the GSAC schedule w8hile the Lions and Royals each have 12.
Westmont will travel south to take on San Diego Christian (9-27, 5-13) in a four-game series at the end of next week while Vanguard and Hope play each other in Costa Mesa.