Warriors Claim Opening Game in GSAC Tournament

Submitted by: Ron Smith - April 30th, 2015


Alex Bush

Alex Bush

Alex Bush, the Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year, was called up to take the mound for #14 (38-13) Westmont Baseball in the first game of the GSAC Championship. The junior right-hander pitched the Warriors to a 2-1 win over #21 Concordia (40-15).

Bush (4-1) allowed just one run on seven hits in eight and two-third innings of work. He struck out four and did not allow a walk. The loss was charged to Robbie Ingram (7-2) who pitched a complete game.

The decision to start Bush, who has served as the Warriors number four starter this season, means that Westmont head coach Robert Ruiz still has all three of his regular starters available for the rest of GSAC Championship play.

“A couple of things went into that decision,” said Ruiz. “Number one, it is Thursday – one day before we normally play – and we have pushed our starters pretty hard this year. They have done a great job and have carried us a lot, in terms of our pitching staff. I didn’t feel we needed to bring those guys back a day early, especially just coming off of having played Concordia.

“Also, we feel we have a fourth starter who could compete in our rotation and I think Alex proved that today,” continued the coach. “He threw 94 pitches through 26 outs. That’s pretty efficient. He was poised on the mound and stayed even through some adversity. He had some good, quick, zero-run innings for us.”

“I just wanted to throw strikes, especially playing on (artificial) turf like this,” said Bush when asked about his approach to the game. “With our solid defense, I just wanted to let our guys make plays and let our defense work. They have played great defense all year.”

The Warriors gave Bush a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Will Barring was issued a two-out walk, and then stole second. Blake Matthias came up and rocketed a double to left-center field to drive in Barring.

In the bottom of the second inning, Michael Frigon singled to short, Rudy Leon walked and Ryan Crowe singled to right to load the bases for the Warriors with one away. Michael Stefanic then hit a ground ball to Eagle’s third baseman Kyle Jones. Jones fielded the ball and squared up to throw home. However he lost possession of the ball on the transfer allowing Frigon to score what would eventually be the winning run.

Concordia scored its only run in the top of the fourth, the result of a two-out solo home run to right by Mitchell Esser.

“Mitchell Esser is a good hitter,” said Bush. “I left a change-up up and he hit it out.”

The run is the only one Bush has surrendered to GSAC hitters this season. He is now 4-0 against conference opponents.

Bush allowed just one hit from the fourth through eighth inning, giving Westmont a chance to close things out in the ninth. Jones led off the top of the ninth and produced an infield single to short.

However, the runner was erased when Esser hit a ground ball to the left side of second base. Leon fielded the ball, stepped on second and fired to David Gabel at first to complete the double play.

“We were playing Jones up the middle and I left a curve ball up a little bit. He rolled it over and Rudy had no play on the ball,” said Bush. “Against Esser, I was just trying to let my fastball run and get a ground ball to Rudy, and that is what happened.”

With one out remaining, Concordia’s Neil Lawhorn hit a deep ball to left-center field that took one bounce off the turf before leaving the yard, resulting in a ground-rule double.

A visit to the mound by Westmont pitching coach Tony Cougoule resulted in Michael Rishwain coming on in relief to face John Bornhop. On a 2-2 count, Rishwain got Bornhop to swing and miss, bringing an end to the game.

“Coach told me that if I throw away the batter can’t hit it and so I just tried to do the job they asked me to do,” said Rishwain. “It felt really good, really exciting. I just want to keep it going for the rest of the tournament. It has been a rough year for me and so it was nice to get a chance to help the team out as best I can.”

“Rish has had an up and down year and he has been a great example to all of us of how to handle adversity,” said Bush. “To see him come out here and get that last out – I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to do that.”

“I have to give credit to Rishwain,” said Ruiz. “Even though he only had to get one of those 27 outs, it was one of the more pressure filled moments of the game. He came in and made some very good pitches and shut it down with a runner in scoring position.”

As a result of the win, the Warriors will have the rest of the day off. Their next game will be tomorrow at noon when they will face The Master’s. The extra rest is a welcome development for the team.

“We had some malfunctions with the bus last night and got into town a little bit late,” noted Ruiz. “This was a really early game and we didn’t get a lot of sleep. Our guys fought to have great energy but at the end of the day, I think everyone was a bit fatigued. Yet they played together as a team to earn the win.

“We weren’t great with the bats, but I have to give credit to their starter,” said Ruiz. “We had Ingram at 42 pitches after two innings and that kid stayed in and finished the game. It wasn’t because we were undisciplined. He got better and started throwing all three pitches for strikes. He did a phenomenal job on the mound and kept it close down to the final out.”

In the second game, #8 The Master’s (42-10) defeated Vanguard (34-19) by a score of 8-4 to set up tomorrow’s non-elimination contest between the Mustangs and Warriors at noon. Concordia and Vanguard will play again today in an elimination game beginning at three o’clock.

The winner of tomorrow’s game between Westmont and The Master’s will advance to Saturday’s championship game. The loser will play again on Friday, beginning at three, in an elimination game against the winner of today’s game between Concordia and Vanguard.

[box score] [photos]