CBB: Westmont opens season with twin-bill sweep

In what is believed to be the first collegiate baseball game of the 2014 season at any level, Westmont won the opening game of its doubleheader against Bethesda (0-2) by a score of 7-4.

Basking in temperatures in the 80s under a clear sky, the Warriors went on to produce a 4-1 win in the second game.

Left fielder Steven Pollex, a sophomore transfer from Nevada Las Vegas, led off in the bottom of the second with a solo home run in the first game, and added a two-run homer in the eighth. For the day, Pollex went four for nine at the plate and produced four RBIs. He also had a stolen base.

“Welcome to Westmont,” said Warrior head coach Robert Ruiz in response to Pollex’ performance. “Obviously, it was a big day for Stephen. It was fun to see him stay aggressive, hit the ball out of the yard two times and play well in left field.”

The Warriors added two more runs in the first inning to take an early 3-0 lead. Shortstop Joey Gonzales, a senior transfer from Mount Mercy (Iowa) who played ball for Santa Barbara High School, singled to center. Gonzales advanced to second on junior center fielder Will Barring’s infield single.

Junior designated hitter David Gabel reached first base on a fielder’s choice that saw Gonzales reach third and Barring thrown out at second. That brought up catcher Brandon Gildea who knocked an RBI-double down the line, advancing Gabel to third. Gabel then scored on a sacrifice fly by freshman first baseman Michael Pollex, brother to Stephen.

“Joey played a solid shortstop for us today and provided some upper-class leadership as a new guy in the middle infield,” noted Ruiz.

The Warriors added another run in the bottom of the fourth. With the bases loaded, Graylin Derke scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by Gonzales.

Torin Shaikh, who allowed just one hit in the first four innings, gave up two unearned runs in the fifth to make it a 4-2 game. Shaikh, the eventual game winner, struck out five without surrendering a walk.

Westmont claimed one run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Michael Pollex scored when senior Chris Stroh pinch hit for freshman right fielder Michael Frigon and was walked with the bases loaded.

Bethesda’s Andrew Camacho, a sophomore catcher, scored in the top of the seventh to make the score 5-3. Camacho scored from third on a ground out by freshman second baseman Chris Carpio.

Stephen Pollex’ two-run home run in the eighth, which drove in junior pinch runner Ryan Beveridge, accounted for the final score.

The Flames’ Gerardo Cortez, Jr. was charged with the loss after giving up five runs, four earned, on nine hits. Cortez walked four and struck out one.

Sophomore Russell Harmening started on the mound for the Warriors in the second game. After giving up a single to sophomore lead-off hitter Justin Soto, Harmening retired the next nine batters in a row.

In the meantime, Gildea, who started the second game as Westmont’s designated hitter, produced a lead-off home run in the second inning to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the fourth, junior third baseman Eric Garcia led off with a single and sophomore right fielder Santiago Arce doubled to left, moving Garcia to third with no outs. After junior designated hitter Eric Ethridge was struck out by Harmening, junior second baseman Daniel Juarez drove Garcia home on a ground out to short. Harmening then struck out Moreno to limit the damage to just one run.

The Warriors responded in the bottom half of the same inning with three runs. After Derke was hit by a pitch, senior catcher Jarrett Rouse produced a sacrifice bunt to move Derke to second. Freshman second baseman Andrew Devian walked before a wild pitched moved both runners up one base. Stroh, pinch hitting again for Frigon, tripled down the right field line to drive in Derke and Devian. Stroh then scored when Stephen Pollex singled through the right side.

The Flames threatened in the fifth inning after sophomore centerfielder Keenan Louis reached second with one away. However, Frigon, playing in right, made a spectacular catch on a line drive by sophomore left fielder Cameron Carter and then doubled-off Louis at second.

In the top of the sixth inning, Gildea made his first appearance as a Warrior pitcher. The right-hander, who has played behind the plate for the Warriors the last three seasons, walked Soto to lead off the inning and then coaxed Garcia into flying out to right field. Soto was thrown out trying to steal second before Arce grounded out to second to end the inning. The Warrior catcher can now add an ERA of 0.00 to his resume.

Michael Rishwain came on in the seventh to close out the game for the Warriors. With one away, Juarez walked to give the Flames a base runner. Rishwain then struck out pinch hitter Ronald McCrea. Pinch hitter Joshua Perez hit a hard ground ball right of second base, but Devian snagged the ball and made a strong throw to first to secure the final out and the Warriors’ second victory of the young season.

Harmening was awarded the win after pitching five innings and allowing one run on just three hits. He struck out four and did not allow a walk. Rishwain picked up his first save of the year.

“For having to get ready early (in the season), our pitchers did a great job,” said Ruiz. “We walked two batters total in the doubleheader today and only gave up one earned run. They are only going to get sharper.”

Ryan Olley took the loss for the Flames after giving up four runs on five hits. Olley struck out one and walked two.