Fulton, MO 5/9/2023- The Westminster College baseball team started off finals week by hosting a SLIAC Baseball Tournament Quarterfinal game against the Greenville University Panthers in a matchup of the #4 and #5 seeds, respectively. There was a great crowd on hand at Saucier Field to witness this rematch from last season's quarterfinal game that was held at Greenville that saw the Blue Jays jump out to a 10-0 lead only for the Panthers to come back and win. Coming into tonight's game, the Blue Jays were riding a four-game winning streak and sweeping Principia College over the weekend. The Panthers were coming off being swept by the regular season champs, Webster University. On the paper, the momentum was on the side of Westminster. However, Greenville had swept the Blue Jays in their three-game series earlier in the season.
Freshman Derek Archer (St. Charles, Mo / Francis Howell North) would get the nod and start the biggest game of his young collegiate career. He would get in trouble at times, walking three batters and having two hits by pitches. Archer would do a good job of minimizing damage, going six and two-thirds innings, giving up three runs on six hits. He would have two strikeouts in the game. He would sit the Panther's offense down one, two, three to start the game and let the Blue Jays' offense go to work.
The Westminster College bats have been red hot all season, leading the SLIAC in many offensive categories, and have either tied or broken all-time programs and conference records. The list is too long to be addressed in this article and will be covered once all the final numbers are in.
Steven Diaz (Highland, Il. / Highland) would get the bottom of the first started with a leadoff single to right. Then Troy Romero (Trophy Club, TX / Byron Nelson), the freshman second baseman from Texas, wasted little time getting the Blue Jays on the board after roping a double to the right-center field wall and scoring Diaz to give the Jays an early 1-0 lead.
The Panthers would answer in the top of the second after getting a one-out base hit. Then would load the bases with one out still in the inning after drawing a hit-by-pitch and a walk. They would bring in the run after a sacrifice fly to left field to tie the game 1-1.
Skyler Bushey (Saint Albans, Vt / Bellows Free Academy) led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk. Quin Adelson (Louisville, KY / North Oldham) would hit a single to left to put runners on first and second and no outs in the inning. Spencer Keiser (Old Monroe, Mo / Winfield) would double to the left-center field gap to score Bushey. Jason Pesold (Arnold, Mo / St. Pius X) laid down the sacrifice bunt to score Adelson and move Keiser to third base. Matt Lukins (Clark, Mo / Rock Bridge) then doubled down the left field line to score Keiser and put the Jays up 4-1.
Greenville would score two runs in the top of the fifth inning to make it 4-3. Westminster would respond in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring two more runs. Green started the inning with a double down the left-field line. He would advance to third after an error, but the Panther left fielder. Keiser would get hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners and no outs. Pesold hit an RBI single to right field, scoring Green. Lukins would ground out to the shortstop but would score Keiser to put the Blue Jays up 6-3.
They would tack on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, after Keiser hit a triple, tying the all-time SLIAC record for triples in a season with 8. Pesold, who continued to do his job at the plate, hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Keiser. Then Diaz would put an exclamation mark on the game, hitting a bomb over the right field fence and putting Westminster up 8-3.
Archer would get the win, his fifth of the season, improving to 5-3. Brooks Chandler (De Land, FL / De Land) would get the call to the bullpen. He would pitch two-thirds of an inning. Then the senior, Jake Waeltermann (Barnhart,MO / Seckman) would come in to close the game out, striking out three batters and picking up his first save of the season.
The Blue Jays will be back in action on Thursday, facing off against the Spalding University Golden Eagles in the SLIAC Tournament Semifinals. That game will take place at Car Shield Field in O'Fallon, Missouri with the first pitch scheduled for 5:30 PM. Admission will be $5 for adults and $3 for those 16 years of age and younger.