MONTECITO, Calif. - When tasked with taking on the #6 team in the NAIA, and Santa Barbara Bracket #1 seed, the Warriors stumbled from the start and suffered a season ending 14-4 loss at the hands of Georgia Gwinnett.
Westmont finishes the season with a record of 30-22, and will enter 2022 still chasing their first trip to the World Series in program history.
“Our performance was just uncharacteristic,” said Westmont head coach Robert Ruiz. “We just made mistakes today that we just don’t typically make and that just made it tough on us.”
The very first batter of the game reached on a throwing error by Robbie Haw and the ball club never seemed to find their footing from there. The team made five errors in total, including two in the first two innings, allowing the Grizzlies to jump out to a 4-0 lead.
“I think we definitely hurt ourselves defensively early in the game,” said Ruiz. “When you’re playing a team like that you don’t want to fall behind on your own mistakes. But in reality, that’s just baseball. One small thing here and there and we were forced to play catch up from the start.”
Westmont opener Eric Oseguera lasted only 1.1 innings, allowing three earned runs without recording a strikeout. Freshman Chase Goddard followed Oseguera with the club’s four most efficient innings, surrendering only two earned runs.
In the bottom of the fourth with two outs and one on, Haw had a shot at redemption and hit a scorching single off the glove of Gwinnett’s third baseman. The ball trickled into shallow left field and was quickly picked up by Gwinnett’s shortstop, but Ryan Desaegher, who was on second, was sent home by Westmont’s third base coach. Desaegher was thrown out, and John Jensen, Westmont’s most dangerous slugger, led off the next inning as opposed to hitting with two men aboard in the fourth.
“I thought we had competitive at bats early,” said Ruiz. “It looked like we had a really good shot to make it a game and then some unfortunate plays made it a tough task.”
The Grizzlies added two more unearned runs in the fifth off errors by Haw and Ryan Desaegher, and then in the sixth inning with two men on, Ruiz opted to pull Goddard in favor of Westmont’s most trusted reliever, Carlos Moreno.
The Grizzlies broke things open for good against Moreno, when his first batter, Nick Barnes, greeted him with a three-run home run.
Down 10-1 in the seventh, Westmont rallied to score three runs highlighted by RBI singles off the bat of Devin Perez and Daniel Netz. With two on and two out in a 10-4 game, Haw grounded out to first to end the rally.
The Warriors left 14 runners on base in total.
The Grizzlies added on four more, before ending Westmont’s season officially by a score of 10-4. After the game Coach Ruiz was quick to look back on the positives of the year, as he reflected on how difficult the circumstances surrounding the 2021 season were.
“A 30-win season in a year like this is something you can take pride in,” said Ruiz. “It was a confusing and strange year. This year it was so hard to quantify just how much of an effect COVID-19 had. And not just worrying about guys getting sick but how difficult it was to have guys practicing in pods and distancing and the inability to run things normally was tough.
“I think most coaches in the college game were just grateful to have a season. And then for us to not only get to play games, but then getting to host an Opening Round, and then to find ourselves playing on the third day makes me grateful. I think there is a lot that our guys should be proud of themselves for.”
“We’re all disappointed it had to end today but as far as overall thoughts on the season, I think our group accomplished a ton and they should be nothing but proud of themselves.”
Article courtesy of Westmont Athletics.