SANTA BARBARA – The University of Antelope Valley Pioneers narrowly defeated the Warriors of Westmont College (34-15) Monday afternoon, coming from behind to earn the 9-8 victory in NAIA Opening Round baseball action at Russell Carr Field in Santa Barbara.
With the win, the Pioneers – now 35-17-1 – extend their program-record winning streak to 21 games and will next face the winner of a game between Arizona Christian University (39-19) from Phoenix, Ariz. and the top seed, the University of Science and Arts (43-10) from Chickasha, Okla. in the winner’s bracket game on Tuesday, May 14 at 12:30 p.m. PST.
After the game, head coach Jacob Garsez said, “This was a great way to start the Opening Round. I felt we got a tremendous amount of support from our pitching staff as they came through big in key moments. Offensively we also came through in big moments and I’m very proud of our guys for accomplishing step one of the process today.”
In what could easily be considered a stressful game for fans of both programs with multiple lead changes, UAV got on the board first with a pair of runs in the second inning on a two-RBI single from junior center fielder Cole Carder (Medford, OR).
Westmont pulled within a run after plating one in the home half of the third and tied things in the fifth after adding another run, but senior third baseman Nate Broaddus (Lemoore, CA) put the Pioneers up once more with a two-run blast, his eleventh of the season in the sixth inning.
UAV would add one run in the seventh to increase its lead to three, 5-3, but the Westmont bats came to life in the bottom half of the seventh as the Warriors added five runs on six hits to take a 7-5 advantage into the eighth.
In the eighth, sophomore catcher Gerardo Castaneda (Tula De Allende, Mexico) knocked in a run on a sacrifice fly to bring the Pioneers within a run, and one batter later, Carder continued his work at the plate, driving a two-run home run over the left-field fence to give UAV a one-run lead, 8-7.
That lead would be short lived though, as Westmont’s Andrew Bayard drove the first pitch he saw in the home half of the eighth over the high, right-field wall to even things, 8-8.
UAV’s offense needed a spark to get the potential game-winning run across, and after Westmont’ Nick Sablock surrendered three-consecutive walks with one out in the inning, junior shortstop Tyler Van Marter (Yucaipa, CA) put the Pioneers ahead with a sacrifice fly out to right field as UAV would go on to take the game after holding the Warriors scoreless in the ninth inning, 9-8.
Senior right-handed starter Tanner White (Martinez, CA) allowed eight hits and five runs in a no-decision, walking two while punching out six across 6-2/3 innings.
Freshman righty Zach Carr (Madera, CA) (3-1) earned the win and allowed four hits and three runs in 1-1/3 innings of relief and sophomore lefty Cameron Heinrich (Riverside, CA) picked up his fourth save this season, allowing just one hit while striking out one in the final half inning.
Carder homered and finished 2-for-4 with four RBI and a run scored, Broaddus also homered and went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and RBI and sophomore left fielder Brayan Gomez (Queretaro, Mexico) went 3-for-4, scored twice, walked once, and stole a base.
Van Marter and designated hitter Kaleyl Anderson (Victorville, CA) each added two hits to go along with a RBI, with Van Marter also coming across to score twice.
Up Next: The Pioneers advance to play the winner’s bracket game against the winner of a contest between the No. 1 seeded Drovers of the University of Science and Arts from Oklahoma (43-10), or the No. 4-seeded Firestorm of Arizona Christian University (39-19) on Tuesday, May 14.