SENECA — The Interstate Eight Conference opener between the Seneca and Westmont baseball squads here Monday was proof positive that no matter how late it is in the game, now matter what the score, you should never count your chickens before they hatch.
After five terrific innings on the mound by Sam Grushkin and another by Avery Othon put the Irish in the driver's seat 4-1, the Sentinels reached the latter hurler for five runs in the top of the seventh to take a two-run edge to the last of the last. However, SHS's Ashton Harty drove in the tying runs with a booming double to center field, then after getting caught between second and third on Othon's comebacker to the mound, scored the winning run when the ball was thrown away, ending a 7-6 Irish victory.
The wild final frame, in which eight of the game's 13 runs were scored, sets the Seneca mark at 2-1 for the season and drops Westmont to 6-3, with a rematch slated for today at Westmont.
"Sometimes, you just have to be lucky, I guess," said Seneca coach Kirk Houchin. "We were fortunate to get two runners on, then Ashton Harty hits the heck out of that ball. ... (Othon) hit the ball hard and Ashton was running for third thinking the ball was going through the mound, and they had him dead to rights, but it got away.
"Sam had a really nice outing tonight in tough conditions. His offspeed stuff was working pretty good, and you have to have touch for those. I don't know how he did it because I can't see my hands right now. For the most part, he threw strikes ... and they gave us some things and we took advantage of them.
"At the end there, we gave them a few and they took advantage, as well. They're very well-coached, and if you give them anything they'll take it, but Sam looked very sharp tonight."
The Irish staked Grushkin to that 4-1 edge starting with a run in the first when Uriah Tobolsky walked, moved up on an errant pickoff throw by WHS pitcher Alex Marotta and a Grushkin infield single, then scored on Myles Mitchell's fielder's choice grounder. The three-run third inning started with walks to Brody McNabb, Cody Altman (single, triple) and Tobolsky, an RBI fielder's choice by Grushkin, an error and a bases-loaded walk to Cole Underhill.
Grushkin breezed through five innings, his only flaw caused by his own wildness. A walk allowed Malek Mostafa to reach, two wild pitches and an error scored him, but the Irish ace gave up just three hits and four walks while striking out seven through five frames. After Othon threw a 1-2-3 sixth, he was slammed for two walks, a hit batsman and three hits, among them an RBI single by Michael Kokoszka (his third hit of the day) and a two-run double by Marotta. Caden Anderson and Shawn Kwasny added runs on sacrifice flies.
The Irish could have folded the tents, but fought back when Grushkin led off with a walk issued by Mostafa. Mitchell singled to right before Harty banged the ball to the wall in center to tie the score. With one out, Othon smoked a one-hopper up the middle that Mostafa speared before turning to look at Harty, who danced a bit before taking off for third base. Mostafa's throw eluded third baseman Kwasny, and Harty scurried home with the game-winner.
The play gave Othon the mound win.
"You've gotta hand it to (our) kids," said Westmont coach D.J. Cocks. "That's a tough pitcher Seneca had on the mound, and the kids worked his pitch count up so that they had to take him out, then we were able to get to their bullpen and take the lead. We just have to learn how to hold a lead in situations like this. That's something we obviously didn't do, and credit Seneca.
"We walked too many guys today. A lot of their runs came on those walks because they took advantage of it. We put ourselves in a good spot, but we didn't close it out. Good teams have to be able to close out games like this."
Seneca 7, Westmont 6
WESTMONT (6) — O'Leary ss 2-1-1-0, Kokoszka 2b 4-1-3-1, Marotta p-cf 3-1-1-2, Basit c 3-0-0-0, Anderson 1b 3-0-0-1, Kwasny 3b 2-0-0-1, Johnson lf 3-0-0-0, Mostafa cf-lf-p 1-2-0-0, Burns dh-p 3-1-1-0, Risden rf 0-0-0-0. Totals 24-6-6-5.
SENECA (7) — Altman cf 3-1-2-0, Tobolsky c 2-1-1-0, Grushkin p-ss 3-2-1-1, Mitchell 1b 4-1-1-1, Harty 3b 3-1-1-2, Newkirk dh 2-0-0-0, Cryder lf 1-0-0-0, Underhill ss 2-0-0-1, Othon p 1-0-0-0, Sangston 2b 2-0-0-0, Aldrich ph 1-0-0-0, McNabb rf 1-1-0-0, Baudino ph 1-0-0-0 . Totals 26-7-6-5.
Westmont (6-3, 0-1) 001 000 5 — 6 6 4
Seneca (2-1, 1-0) 103 000 3 — 7 6 2
LOB - Westmont 7, Seneca 7. 2B - Marotta, Tobolsky, Harty. 3B - Altman. SF - Anderson, Kwasny. SB - Cryder. HBP - O'Leary (by Othon).
Westmont ip r er h bb k
Marotta 4.0 4 2 3 6 5
Burns 2.0 0 0 1 1 1
Mostafa (L) 0.1 3 2 2 1 1
Grushkin 5.0 1 0 3 4 7
Othon (W) 2.0 5 5 3 2 0