CBB: Westmont avoids elimination by beating Spring Arbor

(LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga.) Westmont Baseball (40-16) stayed alive in the Lawrenceville Bracket of the NAIA Championship Opening Round by defeating Spring Arbor 13-10. The four hour and two minute roller coaster ride saw four lead changes, 26 men left on base and nine pitchers take the mound.

With the win, the Warriors advance to play St. Catharine of Kentucky (38-16) later tonight in another elimination game. Spring Arbor was the first team eliminated from the tournament.

This marks the first time in program history that the Warriors have reached the 40-win mark, breaking last year’s record-setting performance of 39 wins.

After a scoreless first two innings, Spring Arbor lit up the scoreboard in the top of the third with a three-RBI double to left-center field by JP Maracani.

The Warriors responded in the bottom half of the inning by sending 11 men to the plate and scoring seven runs. Rudy Leon started off the inning with a single to center field and then advanced to second when catcher Ryan Crowe walked.

Leon and courtesy runner Ryan Beveridge (for Crowe) each moved up a base on a wild pitch before Michael Stefanic ground out to third. Another wild pitch moved Beveridge to third. Alex Bush then ground out to first, allowing Leon to score while Beveridge remained at third.

Will Barring stepped to the plate next and beat out an infield single deep in the hole at second, driving in Beveridge in the process. Successive walks to Blake Matthias and Will Barring loaded the bases before Pollex singled through the right side to drive in both Barring and Matthias.

A dropped infield pop-up put Turner Conrad on first and brought Rodigo home. Pollex moved to third on the miscue. After Conrad stole second, Leon came up to bat for the second time in the inning and delivered his second hit – a two-RBI single to right that scored the sixth and seventh run of the inning.

In the top of the fourth, Spring Arbor’s Nick Harris laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Tyler Baker from third. Baker had reached on a single, took second on a single by Jeremiah Johnson and claimed third on a fielder’s choice by Conner Lengerich.

Westmont took the run back in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI-single by Barring that brought Bush home. With one away, Bush singled to right to reach first base and advanced to third on a wild pitch followed by a stolen base. That made the score eight to four in favor of the Warriors after four innings of play.

The Cougars scored two more runs in the top of the fifth inning and loaded the bases before Stephen Larson was called to come out of the pen. Lengerich lined a shot back to the mound. Larson got his glove on the ball, but lost the glove from his hand. Larson retrieved the ball and threw to Crowe to get the force out at the plate. Larson then struck out Harris to end the inning.

Spring Arbor pulled to within one run (8-7) in the top of the seventh when Chris Wegrzyn scored from third on a stolen base. Larson threw to first in an attempt to pick off Jonathan Newman, which resulted in a run down. Wegrzyn broke for home so Bush abandoned the run down in favor of the play the plate. However, Bush’s throw to Crowe was in the dirt, which allowed the run to score. Michael Rishwain then came in to pitch and struck out Baker to end the inning.

Spring Arbor took the lead (10-8) when they put up three runs in the top of the seventh. A two-RBI single by Wegrzyn brought in the first two runs. A stolen base and a throwing error allowed Wegrzyn to reach third before Mitchel Patterson drove him home with a single to center field. Hector Lujan, who took over pitching duties with two away and men on second and third, promptly struck out Jonathan Newman to end the inning.

The Warriors scored four times after the playing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” to retake the lead 12-10.

Rudy Leon led off and connected for a single to right-center. He then took second on a sacrifice bunt by Crowe. Leon scored on a single up the middle by Stefanic. Bush reached when hit by a pitch, moving Stefanic to second. Bush was actually hit twice during the at bat, but the first time the umpire ruled that Bush had not made an effort to get out of the way.

Will Barring delivered the ball to right-center field for a double, driving in Stefanic and moving Bush to third. Blake Matthias was then intentionally walked, loading the bases. Bush scored when Graylin Derke, batting in the designated hitter spot, drove a sacrifice fly to right field. Barring later scored when Pollex reached on an error.

Lujan, who was awarded the win, pitched a scoreless eighth inning, coaxing a ground out to short by Wegruzyn with the bases loaded. Westmont tacked on one run in the bottom of the eighth, when a ground out to first by Barring allowed Bush to score from third.

Lujan ran his record to 2-3 on the year. He did not surrender a run or a hit, struck out two and walked three. Starter Daniel Butler went four and one third innings giving up six runs (five earned) on nine hits. He struck out two and walked two. Zach DeMarcus picked up a save by pitching the scoreless ninth inning. DeMarcus allowed one hit while facing four batters.

Leon went four for four at the plate with two runs scored, two RBIs and a walk. Will Barring was three for six with two runs scored and four RBIs.