Baseball: Ninth inning defensive gem saves 8-7 win over LA Valley

The Falcons baseball teams observes a moment of silence in honor of the Altobelli family before their game against LA Valley
The Falcons baseball teams observes a moment of silence in honor of the Altobelli family before their game against LA Valley

On Thursday at Kincaid Field, the Cerritos College baseball team was clinging to an 8-7 lead over Los Angeles Valley College in the ninth inning of the SoCal Challenge. The Monarchs had just scored a run to get to within 8-7 and had a runner on second base with one out. On a ground ball in the hole, sophomore shortstop Alex Bueno (Centennial, NV HS) gathered the ball and threw to first baseman David Hays (St. John Bosco HS) for the second out. But Dorian Asher, who was on second base, must not have been aware that Hays is also a pitcher and he took off for third base. Hays threw a strike to freshman third baseman Alex Figueroa (St. John Bosco HS), who applied the tag for the final out to preserve the 8-7 win.

The Falcons (4-0) will now take on West Los Angeles College at Kincaid Field on Friday at 2:00 p.m. in the second game of the mini tournament. The teams in the tournament with the best records after the two days will play on Saturday at Long Beach City College, while the other teams will play at Los Angeles Harbor College.

Leading 3-1 through five innings, Cerritos saw LA Valley (2-1) put three runs on the board to take the lead. Jerry Aguilar led off with a triple and scored on a single by Asher off sophomore starting pitcher Nicholas Martinez (La Serna HS). A walk was followed by a fielding error by freshman second baseman Andres Vega (Mary Star of the Sea HS), who mishandled a bunt by Jonathan Castanda and allowed the second run to score. With runners on first and third, Gedeon Ellis was able to lay down a bunt, which drove in the third run.

The Falcons responded with four runs in the bottom of the stanza with the benefit of just one hit, as the Monarchs committed three errors. With one out, sophomore outfielder Bodie Parker (Cajon HS/Chaffey College) and Figueroa drew consecutive walks. A fielder's choice by sophomore outfielder Shea Estrin (West Torrance HS) advanced Parker to third base, with Estrin stealing second to put both runners in scoring position. Sophomore pinch-hitter Matt Den Hartog (Los Alamitos HS) grounded to Asher at third base, whose throw was high, which allowed a run to score. Thomas Keller then mishandled a ground ball from sophomore outfielder Buck Anderson (Lakewood HS/Cal State Bakersfield), which plated another run. Vega then stepped up and drove home a pair of runs with a base hit inside the left field line.

Former OCC assistant coach Daylon Monette threw out the ceremonial first pitch Freshman relief pitcher Nathaniel Davalos (Santa Fe HS) allowed a two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning to Lee Brandzel and then withstood the ninth inning to earn the save. The eventual game-winning run came in the bottom of the eighth inning without putting the ball in play. Anderson walked, moved to second when pitcher Sebastian Zepeda tried to throw over to first base, but Tyler Olivas was charging on the play and the ball got away. A passed balled was followed by a wild pitch on ball four to Vega, which allowed Anderson to score.

Vega (2-for-3, 3 RBI) and sophomore designated hitter Richard Castro (Bishop Amat HS/Cal State San Bernardino) each had a pair of hits, while Anderson drew three walks and scored a pair of runs.

Prior to the game, the Falcons held a moment of silence for Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobello, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, who all perished in the helicopter crash that also claimed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and four others. Former Pirates assistant coach Daylon Monette (pictured, left) threw out the ceremonial first pitch.