The Westmont baseball (18-2, 7-1) split a pair of games from The Master’s (13-8, 3-5) on Saturday, giving the Warriors the series win after taking both games Friday. In game one, Westmont’s program record 17-game winning streak came to an end when The Master’s hung on to win 8-4.
Then, in game two, the Warriors broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth to win 4-3 and take the series.
“We knew Master’s was going to come back today ready to compete,” said Westmont head coach Robert Ruiz. “It was a well-played day of baseball for those guys and we were faced to deal with adversity we hadn’t seen in a while.
“Those were two really good baseball games. You have to hand it to our guys for not deflating in game two and staying in the fight.”
In game one, Westmont looked primed to extend their streak to 18 when they scored twice in the bottom of the first. Josh Rego opened up the day with a run-scoring single to right, bringing in Paul Mezurashi. Then, Rego was able to stay in a rundown long enough between first and second, allowing Simon Reid to bring home run number two.
A half-inning later the Mustangs tied things up with a pair of singles that snuck through the five-six hole, bringing home Austin Young and Joe Terlizzi. Then, in the top of the fourth, The Master’s went up for good following a pop up that dropped in the Bermuda triangle.
With two on and two out, Davis Beavers skied a fly ball into shallow center field, directly in the middle of Robbie Haw, Brady Renck and Finn Snyder. When none of the three took charge, the ball plopped onto the outfield grass, allowing both men aboard to score, giving TMU a 4-2 lead.
After the Mustangs added on a pair in the sixth, Westmont’s best look at the game came in the bottom of the seventh. After the Warriors rallied to score twice with two outs, Reid came to the plate with runners at the corners. On a full count offering, Reid hit a pop fly that drifted toward the Westmont dugout on the third base side.
Mustangs’ third baseman Benjamin Johnson then leaned over the dugout railing and snared the pop fly, ending the threat.
The Mustangs added a pair in the top of the ninth, and retired the Warriors in order in the bottom-half to win 8-4.
“First of all, we have to tip our cap to their starter,” noted Ruiz. “He was on the attack and kept us off-balanced for the first six innings. It felt like their offense capitalized on every single mistake we made. We couldn’t get away with anything.
“We just couldn’t come up with a big hit to overcome our mistakes.”
In game two, Thomas Rudinsky drove in the first runs of the game to give Westmont the early advantage. In the first inning, Rudinsky singled to left to bring in Dennis Shraeder, and in the third, he doubled to right to bring in Haw.
Westmont added a third insurance run in the bottom of the fourth when Ryan Desaegher was rewarded for his aggressive base running. When a pitch went to the backstop, Desaegher, who was on first, darted for second and aggressively rounded the bag. When Terlizzi, the Mustangs’ catcher, was slow to pick up the ball, Desaegher attempted to take an additional 90 feet.
Terlizzi then skipped the throw to third and saw it sail into the outfield when Johnson couldn’t snag it, and Desaegher got to jog home after moving up three bases following a wild pitch.
The insurance run quickly proved to be key for the Warriors, once the Mustangs threatened in the top of the fifth. After four shutout innings from Chad Stoner, the Mustangs rallied to score a run and put two runners in scoring position without recording an out.
Ruiz then opted to hand the ball to Sam Kim, hoping the fresh arm could get the club out of the jam. Kim got the first man he faced to strike out. Then, Kobe Katayama grounded a ball past the diving Rego at first and into right field. The runner from third scored easily, and the runner from second scored when Reid couldn’t handle the throw from Rudinsky in right.
Westmont got out of the fifth without any further damage, but found themselves in a 3-3 tie and a potential series-split on the line.
With two on and one out in the top of the sixth, reliever Carlos Moreno made the play of the day to hold off The Master’s. As the first base dugout chirped loudly, sensing an opportunity to put a crooked number on the board, Moreno spun around and caught the runner at second sleeping.
Following the pick off at second base, Moreno got the third out while still keeping a zero on the board.
Westmont fully swung the day’s momentum with two outs in the bottom of the inning. With two outs and nobody on, Parker O’Neil hit a chopper to Johnson at third base. Johnson, who was a clean throw away from keeping the game tied, threw wildly across the diamond.
Justin Rodriguez immediately made it hurt for the Mustangs when he slashed a line drive to the wall in right-center field. With a clean relay, there likely would have been a play at the plate. However, the initial throw from the outfield could not be handled, allowing the go-ahead run to score without a throw.
“Justin Rodriguez had a fantastic day today,” said Ruiz. “He picked us up big time with that game-winning hit. Carlos was great out of the pen, and that pick at second base was probably the biggest momentum shift of the day.”
Calm, cool, and collected as usual, Moreno retired the Mustangs in order to seal the Saturday split, and series win.
“Every weekend we go into, the ultimate goal is to win the series,” reflected Ruiz. “You never want to lose a game, but we lost a game to a good team today. I thought we did a fantastic job bouncing back to take game two. Winning that series against a good Master’s team is big.”
Westmont’s first GSAC road trip begins this weekend in Rocklin, where they’ll play a four-game series against William Jessup beginning Friday.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.