CBB: Location change doesn’t bother Harmening, Warriors

AZUSA – Westmont pitcher Russell Harmening improved his record 9-1 and lowered his season ERA to 1.17 as the Warriors (29-8, 23-7 GSAC) posted a 9-1 win over the Eagles of Biola (14-24, 10-21). Harmening pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing just four hits. He struck out nine and did not allow a walk.

The game took a strange turn just before three o’clock in La Mirada, where the game was originally scheduled to play. Both pitchers were warmed up and both teams ready to go but no one showed up to umpire the game.

A quick scramble by the hosts and coordination with the assigner of officials resulted in both a change of start time and of location. The game was postponed until 7:00 p.m. and arrangements were made to play under the lights at Azusa Pacific.

Judging by their performance, none of that appeared to faze either Harmening or the Warrior hitters.

Westmont’s Alex Bush, who leads the league in batting average, went three for five on the night including a first inning solo home run to put the Warriors on top.

In the fourth inning, Bush led off with a single and then stole second base. When Will Barring doubled down the right field line, Bush scored the second run of the game.

Blake Matthias hit the ball to deep center field where Biola’s Rob Groeschell made a spectacular catch for the first out of the inning. However, Barring advanced to third on the play. One out later, Michael Pollex doubled down the left field line to bring Barring home.

In the fifth inning, Rudy Leon reached on a walk and took second when Ryan Crowe ground out to first. After Leon took third on a wild pitch and Michael Stefanic walked, Bush singled to right to drive in Leon and move Stefanic to second base. One out and a pitching change later, Blake Matthias doubled to left to drive in Stefanic.

The Warriors added a single run in the top of the eighth inning after Barring received a lead-off walk. Barring stole both second and then stole third. On the latter attempt at pilfering a bag, the ball was thrown into left field by the catcher and Barring was able to score.

Westmont took out a big insurance policy in the top of the ninth with three more runs. Leon was hit by the pitch to start the inning and then advanced to second on a single to right by Crowe. Ryan Beveridge then replaced Crowe on the base pads as a courtesy runner. Stefanic reached on a fielder’s choice that saw Leon thrown out at third and Beveridge reached second safely.

After a double steal by Beveridge and Stefanic, Barring delivered a two-RBI single to center. Barring then reached second on a throwing error by the pitcher before being driven in on a single to right by Matthias.

Michael Rishwain came on in relief in the bottom of the ninth and retired the first two batters. Biola’s Julian Jarrard reached on a double to center field that bounced off the glove of a diving Barring. Jeremy Barth then singled to right to score Jarrard. Rishwain then convinced Groeschell to ground out to third to secure the Warrior win.

The Warriors and Eagles will meet up again on Thursday for a doubleheader. The twin bill will be played at Biola beginning at noon.