Baseball’s Season Comes to an End

Submitted by: Ron Smith - May 13th, 2014


GGC-Baseball-1309Westmont Baseball entered today needing to survive two elimination games to advance in the Lawrenceville, Georgia bracket of the NAIA Baseball Opening Round Tournament. The Warriors staved off elimination in the morning game by defeating William Woods (Mo.) 6-5 in 12 innings. However, the Warriors fell just short in the night game, losing 9-8 to host Georgia Gwinnett.

The Warrior end their season with a program best record of 39-19 and the program’s first appearance and first win in National Tournament play.

Russell Harmening (12-3) started the first game for the Warriors and pitched seven and two-third innings. Harmening gave up five runs on 11 hits, struck out four and did not allow a walk. This was Harmening’s only start this season in which he did not record a decision.

Sam Sheehan (1-1) pitched the final four and one-third scoreless innings and picked up the win. Sheehan allowed four hits and struck out two.

William Woods used four pitchers including starter John Cavness who lasted just three innings. Ryan Schmidt pitched the 12th inning and was charged with the loss after giving up one run on one hit.

The Warriors scored a single run in half of the innings played. In the top of the second, Alex Bush led off for Westmont with an infield single and then reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Brent Fukushima. When Will Barring flied out to center field, Bush moved over to second. He then scored on a throwing error by the Owl’s catcher.

In the third, Steven Pollex singled to start things off and reached second on a ground out by Joey Gonzales. Brandon Gildea came up next and struck a sharply hit ball back to Cavness. The ball deflected off of Cavness toward the hole between short and third, allowing Pollex to score.

With the score tied at two, the Warriors took the lead in the top of the fourth when Barring crossed home plate. Barring led off with a bloop-single to center field, which chased Cavness from the game in favor of James Ball. After Rudy Leon reached on a walk, Chris Stroh delivered a bunt single to load the bases with no outs. Barring scored when Pollex grounded into a double play.

After the Owls made it a 4-3 game with a single run in the bottom of the seventh, Westmont regained a two-run lead by scoring in the top of the eighth. Brent Fukushima started the inning off with a single through the left side and reached second via a sacrifice bunt by Barring. Dylan Hastings then took the mound for William Woods, replacing Ball. A pass ball allowed Fukushima to reach third base and a single to center by Leon brought Fukushima home.

The Warriors’ two-run lead evaporated in the bottom of the eighth inning on a two-RBI single up the middle by Damon Adrian. Tied at five, the two teams began battling for the one run that would win the game in the ninth or later innings. Though both teams had opportunities, neither would score until the top of the 12th.

With Schmidt on the mound and one away, Stroh walked. An error by the shortstop allowed Stroh to take second and Pollex to reach first. One out later, Gildea delivered the game winning RBI-single, driving in Stroh.

The three hour 59 minute marathon concluded at 3:05 p.m. Exactly four and one-half hours later, the first pitch was thrown for the Warriors’ second game of the day.

Leading off the top of the first, Steven Pollex demonstrated for the rest of the Warrior line-up that hits were available from the Grizzlies’ starter Tyler Carpenter. He tripled to deep left-center field and then scored when Joey Gonzales singled down the right field line.

The Grizzlies evened the game at one in the bottom half of the initial inning, but the Warriors answered with four runs in the top of the second to take a 5-1 lead. Bush, who was the starting pitcher, received a lead-off walk and was replaced on the base pads by Chito Elias. One out later, Elias moved to third on a hit-and-run single by Barring.

A single to right by Leon drove in Elias and moved Barring to second. Stroh then tripled to left-center, driving in both Elias and Barring. Pollex’ bloop-single to right brought home Stroh.

Georgia Gwinnett made it a 5-2 game in the bottom of the second inning when Christian Van Camp delivered an RBI-single to center field, driving in Sloan Strickland. Strickland had led off the inning with a double down the right field line.

The Warriors added two more runs in the top of the fourth. Stroh’s hit an infield single with one away. With Brandon MacKinnon on the mound replacing Carpenter, Pollex received a walk. Gonzales was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. MacKinnon then hit Gildea as well, scoring a run.

MacKinnon was replaced on the mound by Jonathan Spitler who gave up a single to right to pinch hitter Blake Matthias, allowing Pollex to score.

The Grizzlies took one back in the bottom of the seventh when Garitt Church followed Van Camp’s two-out triple down the right field line with a single into center field. It could have been worse for the Warriors except for a dazzling double play in which Joey Gonzales went down on a knee to reach for a hard driven ground ball and fired over to Fukushima at second without getting up.

However, the wheels came off the bus in the bottom of the eighth inning when the Grizzlies put up six runs on six hits, a sacrifice fly, a walk and a hit batsman. Having started the inning up 7-3, the Warriors found themselves on the wrong end of a 9-7 score going into the top of the ninth.

If the Warriors were discouraged, it didn’t show on the field. Gonzales led off with a single through the left side. He took second when Gildea’s hard hit ground ball was mishandled by the Grizzlie’s shortstop resulting in runners at first and second with no outs.

Two outs later, Fukushima singled to center and Gonzales scored from second base, cutting the lead to one. Will Barring produced an infield hit to third, loading the bases with two away. However, Leon was unable to put the ball in play and the season ended on a called third strike.

Bush pitched seven plus innings, giving up five runs on 12 hits. He struck out two and walked one. Hunter Christianson was charged with the loss after allowing four runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning. Taylor Martin closed out the game giving up one hit in one-third inning.

While the sting of losing the second game is fresh, the reality is that the 2014 Warriors were the most successful in Westmont Baseball’s long history and the first to win a Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament Championship. The hope and expectation is that this year is just a taste of even better things yet to come. [WC vs. William Woods box score] [WC vs. William Woods photos] [WC vs. Georgia Gwinnett box score] [WC vs. Georgia Gwinnett photos]