Westmont baseball has transitioned from being viewed as a club with a hot start, to now being seen as a top-10 team in the NAIA. After winning a pair of games against #23 Arizona Christian (18-10, 7-5 GSAC), #7 Westmont (24-2, 13-1 GSAC) continued to put their best foot forward in 2022.
In game one, Bryan Peck continued to lobby for the label of “ace” when he fired eight innings of one-run ball to lead the club to a 10-1 victory. Then, in game two, Eric Oseguera moved to 6-0 following five innings of one-run ball. Following Oseguera’s departure, six huge outs from the Westmont bullpen secured a 3-1 win.
“I’d say today was one of the most complete doubleheaders we’ve played this season,” said Westmont head coach Robert Ruiz. “We know it’s going to take everything we’ve got to be competitive against these guys. They’re a very good team with a strong offense and a lot of good components on the mound.
“I was really proud of the way our guys took the field today after a long road trip yesterday.”
In game one, Westmont put together one of their most complete wins of the season.
In the top of the second inning, Justin Rodriguez opened the scoring when he turned on a ball and saw it creep over the 340” sign down the left field line. It was the junior’s third home run of the season, and he did not have to wait long to add to that total a couple times.
The Warriors added another run in the top of the third when Brady Renck battled down 1-2 in the count, and hooked a ball inside the first base line for an RBI triple, scoring Ryan Desaegher.
An inning later, Finn Snyder came up in a big spot with runners at second and third and two outs. Snyder punched a ball up the middle, passed the diving ACU second baseman and into center. Rodriguez and Parker O’Neil brought home runs three and four for the Warriors. With the way Peck was throwing the ball, the game almost felt out of reach.
The highlight of his day came in the top of the fifth, when the Firestorm tested the right-hander’s grit. After a one-out single, the Firestorm were gifted an opportunity when Renck committed a throwing error, putting runners at the corners with one out.
With a chance to get the Firestorm back in the game, Daniel Durazo bounced a ball right at Renck once again. On this occasion, a perfect feed from Renck to Robbie Haw started an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play to keep the Firestorm off the board. Peck, as excited as he’s appeared in a Westmont uniform, pounded his glove and screamed his way back into the Westmont dugout.
The Warriors immediately added insult to injury when they added another pair in the next half-inning. First, Rodrigues collected another RBI with a base hit to right, and then, a perfectly placed safety squeeze from Desaegher brought home run number six.
In the bottom of the sixth, ACU got on the board with a sacrifice fly. Then, in the top of the seventh, Rodriguez lifted his second home run of the day, this time with a man on base. While his first long ball of the day was a line drive in the corner, the second was a mammoth shot, high in the air to left that was gone the moment it left Rodriguez’ bat.
The Simi Valley native admired his blast while remaining posed in his follow-through, before calmly dropping the bat and beginning his victory lap.
In the top of the eighth, Westmont added another pair on run-scoring singles from Thomas Rudinsky and Josh Rego.
In the bottom half of the eighth, Peck induced a strikeout, fly out, and groundout to cap off a career-high eight innings of one-run ball. Peck threw 101 pitches, struck out six, and induced 12 groundouts in his tone-setting outing.
The freshman earned his fifth win of the season, remaining undefeated in as many decisions.
“Peck was fantastic,” stated Ruiz. “I was really pleased with the demeanor he took the mound with today. He knew he was facing a very good team and that it was a big game for us. He got hit a line drive early, in the shin, and not only recovered from that, but threw five more innings.
“He was about as good as he’s been all year today.”
Daniel Patterson retired the side in order in the ninth, securing Westmont’s 23rd win in 25 tries.
In game two, Rodriguez came out for an encore when he opened the scoring in the top of the second. On a full count offering, Rodriguez saw a hanging breaking ball and belted it out of the park to straight-away left. With his third home run of the day, Rodriguez started the series 5-6, with three home runs, five RBIs, and four runs scored.
“Justin had a fantastic day,” reflected Ruiz. “It’s really good to see him get going and he was able to play some outfield today too. All around, it was a big day for him. To have that kind of production of your seven-hole deepens your lineup and gives us a chance to win every time we play.”
In the third inning, Renck continued his bounce back season with a home run down the right field line. The junior’s team-leading seventh home run of the season gave the club a 2-0 lead.
In the fourth, Finn Snyder came up with another big hit when he served a ball to the wall in left center field. Rego came all the way around from first on the two-out run-scoring triple from Snyder, his second three-bagger of the year.
Like they did against Peck in game one, ACU’s first real threat came against Oseguera in the bottom of the fifth. Oseguera surrendered just one hit during the first four innings of play, before giving up a pair of singles in the fifth.
With two on, two out, and a full count offering, Oseguera induced a ground ball to Renck at second and confidently strolled to the dugout before Renck’s throw ended the threat.
After Oseguera walked a man to begin the sixth, Ruiz handed the ball to Gabe Arteaga, who has been one of Westmont’s most dominant relievers in 2022. Arteaga hit the batter he saw, putting him in even deeper water.
Then, a chopper to O’Neil at third started a perfectly choreographed 5-4-3 double play for the first-two outs. ACU got a run on a two-out single, but more importantly, the damage was limited thanks to the double play and a strikeout.
Oseguera’s final line was five innings, one earned run, two strikeouts, and two walks. Most notably, Oseguera becomes the first Warrior to collect his sixth win, as he too, remains undefeated in as many decisions.
“Osey was fantastic today, again,” offered Ruiz. “He gave us five competitive innings, and then Gabe came in and pitched us out of a jam.
“I have to give some credit to our defense. We turned quite a few double plays today and overall made big plays when it was critical. You have to be able to make big plays to win games against teams of this caliber.”
After the Warriors went down quietly in the top of the seventh, bullpen ace Carlos Moreno took the mound for the bottom half. All it took was nine pitches to secure his second save of the season, and Westmont’s 24th win of the year.
“We preserved the entire bullpen; every guy is able to go tomorrow,” noted Ruiz. “With the caliber of the offense we are facing, that is huge.”
The Warriors look to win the series tomorrow as they play another pair of games against the Firestorm. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. MST/10:00 a.m. PST. Links to live coverage will be available on the Westmont Athletics website.
“I know Arizona Christian is going to come back strong tomorrow,” said Ruiz. “It’s going to take everything we have to win this series. It’s Brad and Chad day, and we’ll be ready.”
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.