Baseball gets crucial sweep over No. 6 Concordia
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When the No. 6 Concordia Eagles came to Santa Barbara this past weekend, the Warriors had no idea what was about to happen: they surprised everyone in the country by beating the Eagles in all three games, a clean sweep.
While the Warriors have struggled at times this season, they showed how well they can work as a team when they have all cylinders firing. The Warriors defeated the Eagles on a combined score of 23–12 through the three game series.
In the first game, the Warriors were led by the incredible pitching performance of Torin Shaikh, a fourth-year, and the bat of Alex Bush, a second-year.
Shaikh pitched eight strong innings, only surrendering three runs with only two being earned on nine hits. Shaikh is now 5–3 and has been a steady arm for the Warriors throughout the season.
Bush, the former pitcher, has led the team in hitting since starting in the second series of the season. The first baseman had three hits, one of which was a deep homerun to right field, and three RBIs. Bush has proven a sensational hitter, now batting .425 with a .490 on-base percentage leading the teams in both categories.
While the Warriors saw success at the plate, Concordia was stifled by the dominant Warriors pitching staff.
Not only did Shaikh have a good outing, but Russell Harmening, a second-year, received his ninth win of the season on Saturday from an excellent performance. Harmening pitched seven innings, surrendering merely two runs, only one of which was earned.
Harmening has not only been one of the team’s best pitchers, but he has also been one of the NAIA’s top pitchers as well. With nine wins, he now leads the NAIA in wins and leads the GSAC in ERA at 2.49.
Harmening has steadily become the Warriors top pitcher this season and has been crucial to the team's overall success this season. The Warriors are now 15-13 in the GSAC boasting a 24-14 overall record. The Warriors are on pace to have their best record in nearly two decades.
Due to Harmenings pitching effort the Warriors got the second win of the weekend, and won the series.
While Harmening had a great game, Brandon Gildea, a third-year, impressed onlookers by hitting a three run home run, catching eight innings and then closing the game out for the Warriors on the mound. Gildea’s performance harkens back to Babe Ruth, who would hit home runs, pitch effectively and play the field, all in a single game.
Gildea finished off his Saturday with another multiple-hit game in the second game.
Similar to Gildea, Steven Pollex, a second-year transfer from UNLV, has helped move the Warriors to their current form. Pollex, the starting leftfielder, not only plays the field well, but also hits for power and average. He leads the team in homeruns with six, and is currently batting .316 with a .394 on base percentage.
Pollex is just one of the few transfers that have stepped in and made a dramatic difference to the team, on and off the field. Pollex transferring from UNLV has added not only a difference maker, but a hard-working individual who often seen running out even a ground ball back to the pitcher.
Joining Pollex as a transfer this season has been Joey Gonzales, a fourth-year from Mount Mercy. Gonzales adds great defense at shortstop and demonstrated that he can get on base and make things happen. With the addition of Gonzales, long-time shortstop Brent Fukushima, a fourth-year, moved to second base. The two make up one of the strongest middle infield combinations in the GSAC, and potentially in the NAIA.
The third game featured fourth-year Casey Schapper, typically a relief pitcher, as the starter. Schapper picked up where Harmening and Shaikh left off and dominated the Eagles lineup. Schapper pitcher all seven innings and only gave up three runs on five hits.
The Warriors have a busy upcoming week with six games, and could potentially make up some more ground on the rest of the GSAC. The Warriors currently sit in fifth place in the GSAC, but are only 4.5 games back of the team they swept Concordia.