The No. 16/24 University of Redlands baseball team welcomed Williams College (MA) to The Yard for a non-conference doubleheader on Tuesday afternoon. The Bulldogs utilized their youthful talent on the mound and big offensive contributions by their veterans for a pair of wins by scores of 5-3 and 7-2.
Rookie pitcher Chris Fousek Jr. (San Diego, CA) climbed the bump in the scheduled, seven-inning opener. Both pitchers cruised through the first three innings before the Ephs put up one run on a triple and a double in the top of the fourth.
However, Williams' lead was short-lived, as Redlands matched the one run also on two hits. Senior third baseman Brendan Gardiner (Mission Viejo, CA) led off with a triple to right center before senior catcher Rainier Aguilar (San Bernardino, CA) roped a single down the right-field line to plate Gardiner.
Williams repeated its offensive efforts by putting up another single run in the fifth on two hits.
Nonetheless, the Maroon and Gray immediately answered back with three runs. With two outs and two runners on, Gardiner laced a bases-clearing double down the left-field line for two RBI. After the subsequent batter reached via walk, junior first baseman Brendan Moore (Murrieta, CA) knocked a single to center field that sent Gardiner all the way home for a 4-2 Redlands lead through five frames.
Although the Ephs added one run in the top of the sixth, Fousek remained focused on the mound and fanned the final batter of the inning to hold a slight 4-3 advantage.
Senior centerfielder Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA) single-handedly gave Redlands a larger lead with a solo shot over the right-field fence to start the bottom of the sixth.
First-year pitcher Justin Yang (Fountain Valley, CA) stepped in to close out the top of the seventh and did just that with a strikeout and two fly-outs. With this victory, Fousek now leads the team with four wins and Yang ranks first with four saves.
The teams jumped back into action after a short, 30-minute break, this time for a full nine-inning game. Senior hurler Felix Minjarez (Riverside, CA) pitched a solid first inning before sophomore Michael Rishebarger (Oceanside, CA) took over pitching duties in the second. Rishebarger made quick work of the Ephs in the second and third. Although Rishebarger allowed a base runner, Redlands' defense executed unique double plays to end both innings.
With a runner on, Gardiner had plenty of fireworks left, as he launched a two-run dinger to give Redlands a 2-0 lead heading into the fourth frame.
This reenergized Rishebarger, as he threw a 1-2-3 top of the fourth. After the initial pitching change, sophomore pitcher Austin Williams (Redlands, CA) was called on in a tough situation, as the Ephs had the bases loaded. A. Williams struck out the first batter he faced, gave up a sacrifice fly for a run, and recorded another fly-out to minimize the bases-loaded situation with just one run and maintain the slight, 2-1 lead.
Fast-forward to the bottom of the seventh, when the Bulldogs showed their offensive prowess by breaking the game wide open with five runs. Following a leadoff walk, the Bulldogs looked to senior second baseman Will Hall (Seattle, WA) to lay down the successful bunt for a base hit. After a sacrifice bunt and another walk, the Ephs' pitcher subsequently walked in a run to leave the bases still juiced. Junior shortstop Aaron Singh (Anaheim, CA) then surprised the opponents' defense with an RBI-bunt single. Kabeary kept the big inning going by blasting a long single to left field that scored two more runs. With the bases loaded yet again, Redlands successfully performed a triple-steal that allowed Singh to sneak in from third and forced an out on a pickle play. The Bulldogs now owned a hefty, 7-1 lead heading into the eighth.
First-year Cal Bridges (Fremont, CA) was moved to from right field to the pitcher's mound in the eighth. Although Williams added a run on two hits in that frame, Bridges got through the inning with minimal damage and made quick work of the ninth inning to secure the Bulldogs' sweep of Williams.
Rishebarger earned the win from the mound.
Gardiner had quite a powerful day at the plate by going 4-for-8 with a home run, a triple, and two doubles. He knocked four RBI and scored three runs.
Redlands (18-6) faces Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) competitor Caltech on Friday, March 23, for a 3 p.m. single game in Pasadena. The Bulldogs return home on Saturday, March 24, for a doubleheader against the Beavers at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.