Warriors Deliver Win in Season Opener

Submitted by: Ron Smith - January 29th, 2016

 

Michael Stefanic

Michael Stefanic

Michael Stefanic went four for five at the plate and drove in five runs to help #16 Westmont Baseball claim a 12-4 win in its season opener against Oregon Tech (0-1). The sophomore second baseman produced two RBI doubles, an RBI triple and a single. He also scored twice and was credited with a stolen base.

The Warriors fell behind early, giving up two runs in the top of the first, but Westmont roared back in the bottom of the third with six runs on five hits.

“I was really excited to see the way the guys came out with good energy, competed well and stayed pretty even throughout all nine innings,” said Westmont head coach Robert Ruiz. “I wasn’t excited about giving up two runs in the first inning, but I was really happy to see how our team kept their composure, stayed even and continued to play the game the right way.”

Catcher Jarrett Costa led off the bottom of the third with a single to center and was relieved on the base pads by courtesy runner Alika McGuire. After shortstop Austin McGilvra reached on an error, advancing McGuire to first, Michael Frigon beat out a bunt for a base hit to load the bases. That brought up Stefanic who deposited the ball in left field for an RBI double that scored McGuire and McGilvra and advanced Frigon to third.

Alex Bush, the 2015 Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year, was then walked to reload the bases. Right fielder Derek Rodigo stepped to the plate next and gave the Warriors’ their second two-RBI double of the inning.

A sacrifice fly by third baseman Graylin Derke brought in Bush from third and advanced Rodigo to third for the first out of the inning. Rodigo then scored on a sacrifice fly by left fielder Michael Valentine, Jr.

“I think our hitters did a good job,” said Ruiz of his club that tallied 14 hits. “We faced a good starter today and it took us a little while to get in rhythm. They kept chipping away and tried to have a good approach at the plate. If you can do that throughout the game, more often than not things are going to turn your way at some point. Those first two innings, we didn’t look as good at the plate, but we were seeing pitches and trying to learn from what their starter was doing. In the third inning, we started putting some stuff together.”

In the meantime, starting right-hander Daniel Butler had settled into the game.

“I told Dan Butler after the game that I was really glad to see him handle adversity. No one wants to go out in the first inning of the season opener and give up two runs. It shows you the kind of competitor that Dan is. He bounced back, kept playing the game, executed his plan and kept us in the game long enough for us to go out and get ahead.”

Butler, who earned the win, allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings of work. Stephen Larson pitched the seventh and eighth inning for the Warriors, allowing just one hit. Sean Coyne pitched the ninth, giving up one run on two hits.

The loss was assigned to Owls’ starter Michael McCall who gave up six runs, five earned, in four innings of work.

“We walked one guy,” said Ruiz of his pitching staff. “It was a goal for our pitchers to be in the strike zone. And we were very productive behind the plate with Jarrett Costa and his ability to shut down the running game. We didn’t give up a single free 90 feet and he blocked every pitch in the dirt.”

After giving up a single run in the top of the fifth, Westmont added four of their own in the bottom of the sixth. Valentin led off the inning with a walk and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. When Turner Conrad entered the game as the new designated hitter and singled to center, Valentin took third. Costa then singled to right center to drive in Valentin and move Conrad to second.

Alexander Scalco entered the game as the courtesy runner for Costa while McGuire, who had previously served in that role, pinch hit for McGilvra. McGuire singled to right off of reliever Adam Kandra who had also entered the game following Costa’s single. The result of McGuire’s hit was a Warrior on every bag.

When Frigon reached on a fielder’s choice that retired McGuire, Scalco advanced to third and Conrad scored. After Frigon stole second base, Stefanic tripled to left center field, driving in Scalco and Conrad.

“I was really excited to see that all three pinch hitters that we brought in got a hit in crucial situations – Turner Conrad, Alika McGuire and Luke Coffey,” said Ruiz. “Seeing those guys being prepared off the bench was a good sign.”

The Warriors added two more runs in the bottom of the eighth. Stefanic doubled to left field to drive in Frigon. Bush followed with a triple to left center to score Stefanic.

The same two teams will play a doubleheader tomorrow at Russ Carr Field, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

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