Walks hurt Warriors in double header defeats

Biola walked away with two wins at Westmont’s Russ Carr Field on Saturday – both literally and figurative. The Warriors outhit the Eagles (14-8, 8-3 GSAC) in both games, but Westmont pitchers surrendered six walks in the first game and seven in the second, a fact would hurt the Warriors in both games. Two of the Biola runners who received a free pass in the first game came around to score, while five of those who walked in the second game eventually crossed the plate. Westmont lost the first game 5-3 in 12 innings and fell 9-1 in the second game.

The Warriors (9-14, 2-10) had several opportunities to win the opener.

Michael Kwan started the game for the Warriors but surrendered two runs in the top of the first. Chris Plance replaced Kwan on the hill in the top of the second inning and pitched through the ninth inning.

Over those eight innings, Warrior hitters came up with three runs. In the both the fourth and sixth innings, Coby Cress reached first to lead off the inning, then scored on an RBI single by designated hitter Mitch Petrak. The Warriors also scored one run in a bizarre bottom of the eighth.

JJ Turbin led off the eighth with a drag bunt single. Jordan Bottenfield then doubled to right center, moving Turbin to third. Cress came up and hit a slow roller past the mound. However, Biola second baseman Garrett Leon was playing up in order to try and make a play at the plate. Leon fielded the ball, looked Turbin back to second and threw out Cress.

Biola head coach John Verhoeven made a decision to intentionally walk Colten Christianson, loading the bases with one away and bringing up Petrak. The designated hitter poked a soft line drive to centerfield, which Eagle’s center fielder Christopher Neal appeared to have caught.

However, umpire Chris Chegwin ruled that Neal had trapped the ball. Westmont base runners were returning to their bags when Chegwin made his ruling and then had to turn around and try to advance. Turbin scored from second on the play. Neal threw the ball to Leon who relayed the ball to third baseman Johnny Farrington. Farrington then tagged out Bottenfield.

A lengthy discussion ensued between Verhoeven and the officiating crew as to whether or not Neal had touched second base before relaying the throw to Farrington. If so, Christianson would be forced out at second and the inning would have been over.

Chegwin ruled that Neal had not touched the bag, leaving Christianson on second, Petrak on first and the Warriors with a 3-2 lead and an opportunity to score again. However, Westmont’s hopes of adding to the lead failed to materialize when left fielder Trevor Christianson grounded to short to end the inning.

In the top of the ninth, Plance returned to the mound. After retiring the first two batters on a foul out to first and a ground out to second, Plance faced pinch hitter Brian Loard who came into the game with a .324 average. Plance took the big right hander to a 2-2 count before surrendering a double to right center. That brought up shortstop Boon Farrington and once more Plance worked the count to 2-2, one strike away from a victory. But Farrington pounded the ball up the middle, tying the game at three-all.

After the Warriors went three-up and three-down in the bottom of the ninth, the game went into extra innings. Plance was replaced on the mound by Jacob Regalado. Plance allowed just one run and six hits. He struck out four and walked two in his eight innings of work.

Westmont had another chance to end the game in the bottom of the tenth. With one away, Bottenfield singled and was replaced at first by pinch runner Steven Motush. Cress was then hit by a pitch moving Motush to second. After Colten Christianson struck out, Petrak once again came to the plate with runners in scoring position.

With a 1-1 count, however, Petrak was unintentionally struck in the head with a pitch and went down to the ground. The Westmont athletic trainer spent several minutes attending to Petrak before he was taken from the game. Nick Gonzalez took Petrak’s place at first while Motush and Cress moved up one base. Brandon Allen, now playing left field, stepped to the plate with two away and a chance to end the game, but a strike out ended the threat.

The Eagles would get two runs in the top half of the twelfth inning. Farrington singled up the middle with one away and then reached third when Neal doubled down the left field line. With Leon coming up, Pete McCarthy was called upon to relieve Regalado. McCarthy walked Leon, with ball four going in the dirt and getting past catcher Jarratt Rouse. Farrington scored on the wild pitch and Neal moved to second. Mac Sullivan then hit a sacrifice fly to left field to drive in Neal.

Biola’s Cameron McVey was sent to the mound in the bottom of the twelfth and retired the Warriors in order to pick up a save and give the Eagles the win. Regalado was charged with the loss while Biola reliever Kyle Atkins was credited with the win after three innings of relief.

The second game was not nearly as close. Biola scored twice in the third and four times in the fourth to take a 6-0 lead. Westmont reduced the margin by one in the fifth inning. Brett Fukushima doubled down the leftfield line to start the inning and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. He then scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Turbin.

Westmont had another chance to put runs on the board in the bottom of the sixth when they loaded the bases on another controversial play. With one away Torin Shaikh, serving as designated hitter in place of Petrak, received a walk then advanced to second when Allen singled to right. Trevor Christianson then pinch hit for third baseman Warren Fishback.

Christianson hit a sharp ground ball to the left of the pitcher. Umpire Jeff Sill tried to get out of the way of the ball but was struck in the foot. At the time, Sill was standing on the grass between the second base bag and the shortstop position. Sill called the ball dead, awarded Christianson second and moved the runners up one base.

That brought Verhoeven out of the dugout and another lengthy discussion ensued. Verhoeven informed the officiating crew that he was playing the rest of the game under protest.

A check of the rule book indicates that the umpires had it right. According to the Official Baseball Rules, Section 5.09 section (f), “The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or return to their bases, without liability to be put out when a fair ball touches a runner or an umpire on fair territory before it touches an infielder including the pitcher or touches an umpire before it has passed an infielder other than the pitcher.”

However, the ruling proved to be of little use as catcher Brandon Gildea grounded into a double play to end the inning without the Warriors scoring.

Biola added three runs in the top of the seventh inning to account for the final score.

Starter Jonathon Breneman took the loss for the Warriors after pitching three and one-third innings. Breneman gave up five runs on three hits. He walked four and did not have a strike out. Alex Brueske was award the win for Biola after pitching five and one-third innings. He allowed one run on nine hits, walked three and struck out one.

Next week, the Warriors will play a four-game series with the Lions of Vanguard (12-10, 8-4). On Wednesday, Westmont will host a doubleheader beginning at 11:00 a.m. Then on Saturday, the two squads will face off in a doubleheader in Costa Mesa.