CBB: Bush gets Warriors off to a great start in GSAC tourney

Westmont scored early and received a solid pitching performance from starter Alex Bush to beat Concordia, 2-1, in the opening game of the GSAC Baseball Tournament on Thursday morning at the The Master’s College in Santa Clarita.

The result advances the Warriors (38-13) to a winner’s bracket game on Friday at noon against tn The Master’s, an 8-4 winner over Vanguard in the other first-round game. Concordia (40-15) and Vanguard played an elimination game later Thursday.

Bush, the GSAC Player of the Year, pitched 8.2 innings, allowing seven hits, no walks and one earned run. The run was a solo homer in the fourth inning by Mitchell Esser. Michael Rishwain struck out the last batter of the game to earn his first save. Bush improved to 4-1.

“He threw 94 pitches through 26 outs,” Westmont coach Robert Ruiz said of Bush. “That’s pretty efficient. He was poised on the mound and stayed even through some adversity. He had some good, quick, zero-run innings for us.”

“I just wanted to throw strikes, especially playing on (artificial) turf like this,” said Bush when asked about his approach to the game. “With our solid defense, I just wanted to let our guys make plays and let our defense work. They have played great defense all year.”

The Warriors gave Bush a 1-0 lead in the first inning. With two outs, William Barring drew a walk from Concordia starter Robbie Ingram and stole second. Blake Matthias then stroked a double to the gap in left-center to score Barring.

The bottom of the order came through to give Westmont a 2-0 lead in the second. With one out, No. 7 hitter Michael Frigon reached base on an infield single. Rudy Leon followed with a walk and Ryan Crowe singled to right to load the bases. An error on lead-off batter Michael Stefanic’s ball hit to third base allowed Frigon to score the run. Ingram struck out Bush and got Barring to fly out to end the inning.

The two runs were all Bush needed. After giving up the homer in the fourth, he allowed only one hit for the next four innings. He gave up a lead-off single in the ninth but came back and got the next batter to hit into a double play. Concordia clean-up hitter Neil Lawhorn doubled, and that brought in Rishwain from the bullpen. He struck out John Bornhop to end the game.

“Coach told me that if I throw away the batter can’t hit it and so I just tried to do the job they asked me to do,” said Rishwain. “It felt really good, really exciting. I just want to keep it going for the rest of the tournament. It has been a rough year for me and so it was nice to get a chance to help the team out as best I can.”

“Rish has had an up and down year and he has been a great example to all of us of how to handle adversity,” said Bush. “To see him come out here and get that last out – I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to do that.”

“I have to give credit to Rishwain,” said Ruiz. “Even though he only had to get one of those 27 outs, it was one of the more pressure filled moments of the game. He came in and made some very good pitches and shut it down with a runner in scoring position.”