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Baseball - Tue, May 2, 2017 - posted by Seth Preuss
The 2017 GSAC Champions with Dr. John Derry and John Turek
The 2017 GSAC Champions with Dr. John Derry and John Turek
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Westmont College
(RV)Hope International

PLACENTIA, CA – (RV) Hope International hosted Westmont on Tuesday, May 2 at 6:00 pm to complete a suspended seven-inning game that was originally played under protest on Apr. 13. A committee upheld the protest four days later, but 15 days after the committee's decision the original result is unchanged – in only the second year of the program, HIU Baseball is the 2017 GSAC Champion.

Westmont had protested a call made at first base after Michael Stefanic singled to right field and was tagged out at the bag by Lee Mutter (SO/La Mesa, CA). Coach Robert Ruiz argued that Stefanic had made no attempt to try for second base, and even got support for that argument from the HIU coaching staff – Ruiz was told that instead Stefanic was ruled out for not returning to first in a timely manner after pausing to hand his batting gear to the Warriors' first base coach.

With the protest logged, play resumed and HIU won – temporarily – with a 7-5 final. After the committee's decision to uphold the protest the game was scheduled to be played on May 2. The committee arrived at their ruling after determining that the umpires had incorrectly interpreted the baseball rulebook and that Section Five, i, allowed Stefanic to return unhindered to the base because he made no try for second.

The Warriors elected to change their lineup, including their pitcher, for the final two and a third innings. With the new lineup in place, play resumed with a runner at first and two out in the fifth. The Warriors started off with a single to put a pair on base, but Brandon Conlin (SR/Norco, CA) successfully pitched for a ground ball to second that ended the inning with no score change.

Jeff Murray (JR/La Mirada, CA) pinch-hit for Mutter to lead off the bottom of the fifth and roped a first-pitch single into right field. Justin Broussard (SR/Upland, CA) followed with a single through the left gap in the infield, and after the Warriors' new pitcher recorded two swinging strikeouts Sean David Clark (SR/Redding, CA) chopped a hard single to third base to load the bags. A fielding error at second allowed Brett Thompson (SR/Newport Beach, CA) to reach base safely and plated Murray for the Royals' first run of the game.

History repeated itself in the sixth inning for Westmont. The Warriors put a pair on base before Neil Sterling came to the plate and once again cleared the safety fence in left field – a carbon copy of the hit wiped out by the protest on Apr. 13 – to give Westmont a 5-1 lead. Josh Steele (SO/Brea, CA) entered to pitch for Conlin and got the final outs of the inning with a grounder to short and a double-play ball hit to third.

Now trailing by four, Nolan Kraemer (FR/Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) led off the sixth with a single into left field. An error at third allowed Will Davis (FR/Anaheim, CA) to reach base safely and both runners advanced on a wild pitch before another misplayed ball hit by Jose Tejeda (SO/Avalon, CA) made its way all the way to the wall in left, scoring two for HIU.

The Royals blanked Westmont in the seventh and the Warriors made a pitching change in the bottom of the frame to try and shut the door on HIU's comeback attempt. The new pitcher walked Clark and hit Thompson before being lifted for another right-hander. Garrett Munoz (SO/Henderson, NV) and Dominic Potlongo (SO/Placentia, CA) entered to pinch run for both Royals already on base, and Brandon Gonzalez (SO/Orange, CA) squared a single into opposite field to load the bases. Kraemer wore a pitch for an RBI to force in Munoz, Davis drew an RBI walk to force home Potlongo, and Murray worked a 3-1 count for an RBI walk that ended the game with a 6-5 tally and gave the Royals their first GSAC title in walkoff fashion.

GSAC Commissioner Mike Daniels was on site to present the Royals with their Championship plaque and so was HIU President Dr. John Derry, who expressed to the team afterwards how proud he was of their accomplishments.

The season is not over for HIU, as they improve to 30-14 overall and finish their second GSAC season 20-10. Both are program bests already in the second year and are good enough for the GSAC title and the top seed at the GSAC Tournament hosted by Menlo on May 7-10. Live links to tournament coverage will be provided on our website, as well as a tournament preview. Congratulations to our baseball team and thank you to all our supporters – fans, family, faculty, staff, and administration – during this incredible season.

 
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Overall GSAC Streak
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