Plance gives Warriors a boost in 8-5 win

Chris Plance put together seven scoreless innings of relief and Westmont hitters erupted for five runs in the sixth inning as the Warriors posted an 8-5 victory over British Columbia on Thursday afternoon at Russ Carr Field.

Plance took over for Dan Cabuling at the start of the third inning and closed out the game, allowing just four hits. The senior struck out two and did not allow a walk.

“It is good to see the guys go out there and go hard,” said Plance about his team. “Everybody was cheering and staying up the entire game. I was able to feed off that and stay focused. It is a tribute to the whole team staying in it. It was a good team effort.”

Cabuling struggled in the top of the first inning, allowing four runs on three hits. The Warriors took one run back in the bottom half of the opening frame. Tim Leary hit a two-out triple down the left field line, driving in Jordan Bottenfield who had reached on a walk.

The Warriors gave the run right back, however, in the top of the second. Ryan Taylor led off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Elias. One out later, Taylor scored when Keaton Briscoe singled to right center.

In the bottom half of the second, Colton Christianson lead off with a single through the left side. One out later, Chris Ramirez singled through the right side, advancing Christianson to second. Then a walk to catcher Jarratt Rouse loaded the bases with Warriors. Westmont picked up one run when Fukushima was hit by a pitch and picked up a second when JJ Turbin ground out to second base.

Bottenfield again walked to load the bases and bring up Leary. That chased British Columbia starter David Otterman from the mound. Danny Britton-Frost was called in from the pen to face Leary and struck out the big power hitter to end the threat with the score 5-3 in favor of the Thunderbirds.

With Plance in for the Warriors and Britton-Frost in for the Thunderbirds, the rapid scoring pace slowed considerably. Neither team scored again until Westmont came up in the sixth inning.

Christianson led off the inning with an infield single and advanced to second on Mitch Petrack’s single to left. Then Ramirez singled to center to load the bases with no outs. Rouse stepped to the plate and was hit by a pitch, forcing in a run and bringing up Fukushima the Warriors’ leadoff batter. Stephen Motush replaced Rouse on first as a courtesy runner.

Fukushima lined a double into the left-centerfield gap which Elias, playing in left field, was just able to cut off before the ball got past him. Christianson and Petrack scored on the play and Motush headed to third. Elias tried to get Fukushima at second, but his throw went wide and bounded toward the visiting first-base dugout. Motush dashed for home and Fukushima scampered to third. UBC first baseman Kevin Nickel picked up the errant throw and tried to throw out Motush at home. However, his throw also missed the mark and Fukushima was able to cross home plate for the fifth run of the inning.

Up 8-5, Plance returned to the mound for the top of the seventh inning.

“It fired me up,” said Plance about resuming his duties with a three-run cushion. “Feeding off of each other’s energy is something we do really well as a team. When we were able to put up those five runs, it gave me energy and allowed me to refocus and go out there and pitch.”

Plance also got some pick-me-up from Rouse and pitching coach Tony Cougoule.

“(British Columbia) started picking up a lot of the pitches early in the game,” said Plance. “Rouse was setting up a little early and the other team was picking up on that and then calling out either the batter’s last name or number to tip them off to the location of the pitch. Coach Cougoule figured it out and talked with Rouse and I during the seventh inning. Rouse made an adjustment and set up late to take that advantage away.”

Westmont (6-2) is off to its best start in recent memory. Not since 1976 has Westmont posted a record of 6-2 in its first eight games of the season.

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