Warriors Clinch Share of Title

Submitted by: Ron Smith - April 23rd, 2016

 

Taylor Bush scoring the winning run.(Photo by Lydia Grenko)

Taylor Bush scoring the winning run.
(Photo by Lydia Grenko)

A pair of dramatic Golden State Athletic Conference wins by #7 Westmont Baseball (39-7, 23-4 GSAC) over Biola (27-23, 14-13), coupled with a two losses by #9 Vanguard (35-12-1, 20-7) to The Master’s (31-15, 16-11), has guaranteed the Warriors at least a share of the GSAC Regular Season Championship and reduced the team’s magic number to just one.

Westmont took both ends of a double header from Biola, scoring a single run in the first game for a 1-0 victory and rallying from a three-run deficit in the final inning of the second game to win 6-5.

After honoring 10 seniors before the first pitch, Westmont and Biola took the field in what turned out to be a duel between pitching staffs.

The top of the first saw David Gaydos (8-2) on the bump for the Warriors. With one away, Sam Thorne doubled to left field to start a spot of trouble for the Warriors. Thorne advanced to third when JD Meyer ground out to second base.

With number four hitter Alec DeWatteville at the plate, Gaydos’ pitch got behind catcher Jarrett Costa, but only travelled eight feet. Costa recovered the ball and tossed it to Gaydos who was covering the plate. Gaydos tagged out Thorne to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.

In the bottom of the first, with Biola starter Jimmy Gallarda (5-6) on the mound, Michael Frigon produced an infield single to third base with one out. Alex Bush then doubled down the left field line to bring home Frigon for the game’s sole run.

Gaydos and Gallarda would both go seven innings with neither pitcher giving up a run the rest of the way. Gallarda allowed five hits and struck out four while Gaydos gave up just three hits and struck out two.

In the top of the eighth, Michael Rishwain came in for Gaydos and retired the side in order. Daniel Jang did the same for the Eagles in the bottom half of the inning.

With the Warriors clinging to a one-run lead, closer Sam Sheehan pitched the top of the ninth. Sheehan struck out Rawley Hughes for the first out and then coached Aaron Chaves into grounding out to the mound.

After Andres Rodriguez reached on an error, Thorne came up to the plate as the potential go-ahead run. However, Thorne lined out to second baseman Michel Stefanic to give Westmont its 12th win in a row and Sheehan his recorded-setting 12th save of the season. Gaydos was credited with the win.

The second game was reminiscent of Friday’s opening game of the three-game series. Zach DeMarcus (4-0), the Warriors’ starting pitcher, ran into trouble in the third inning when he gave up four runs on four hits. Biola’s runs came courtesy of a two-RBI double by DeWatteville and a two-run home run by Thorne.

Lance Simpson, called in as a reliever in the top of the third with two outs and a man on first, ended any further threat by striking out Jerron Largusa.

Westmont responded with two runs in the bottom of the third and threatened more. With one away, Stefanic walked and then scored with Frigon doubled down the left field line. A ground out to second by Bush allowed Frigon to take third base. After Jarrett Costa walked, Graylin Derke hit a screamer up the middle that ricocheted off the pitcher and allowed Frigon to score.

Biola added a single run in the top of the fifth when Barth produced a sacrifice fly that scored that scored Meyer from third. It is the only run that Simpson has given up in 22 1/3 innings of work this year.

The score remained 5-2 in favor of the Eagles until the bottom of the seventh and final inning. That’s when Buddy Broower, who came in as a relief pitcher for starter Micha Beyer in the fourth inning, ran into a Warrior offense that was not to be denied.

Stefanic led off the inning with a single to right field and then reached second when Frigon singled to left. Bush split the difference and singled to center to load the bases with Warriors and bring the potential winning run to the plate in the person of Costa.

Jang, a side-arm throwing right hander, was called in by Biola to face Costa and struck out the senior catcher on three pitches for the first, and as it turned out, only out of the inning.

Next up was Derke who drove a doubled to left center scoring Frigon and Stefanic and advancing Bush to third. With the Warriors down by just one run (5-4), Taylor Bush pinch ran for Derke at second and Turner Conrad stepped to the plate.

On a 1-1 pitch from Jang, Conrad checked his swing. However, the ball hit Conrad’s bat and dropped in to shallow right field just inside the foul line. The result was a walk-off, two-RBI, Bush clearing, check swing bloop-single that ignited a Warrior celebration.

The victory gave Westmont not only a series sweep of the Eagles, but a season sweep as well (6-0). It was the 13th win in a row for the Warriors and the 10th consecutive conference win. The Warriors, who set the record last season for the program’s best record (41-17), are four games ahead of last year’s pace.

Westmont needs just one more conference win to clinch the GSAC Regular Season Championship outright and with it the right to host the GSAC Tournament. The Warriors will have that opportunity when they travel to Atherton to take on Menlo in a three-game series next Friday and Saturday. Before that, however, they will host the Pioneers of Antelope Valley (35-14) in a single game on Tuesday afternoon at three o’clock.

The GSAC Tournament is a five-team double-elimination tournament that begins on Monday, May 9. The winner receives an automatic berth into the NAIA National Championship.

The Warriors were already awarded a berth into the NAIA National Championship when they were selected to host an Opening Round Tournament beginning on May 17.

In regards to the conference tournament, Westmont, Vanguard and The Master’s have already secured one of the five berths. Menlo, Biola and San Diego Christian are in contention for the final two spots. Hope International, Arizona Christian and William Jessup have been mathematically eliminated from postseason play.

[game one box] [game two box] [photos]