Baseball: Ninth inning rally ends at home plate in 11-10 loss

Matt Den Hartog went 2-for-5 with three RBI for the Falcons
Matt Den Hartog went 2-for-5 with three RBI for the Falcons

Trailing by four runs and down to their final three outs, the Cerritos College baseball team staged a remarkable comeback that came up short when the third out was recorded at home plate in an 11-10 loss to El Camino College. The defeat dropped the Falcons to 10-6 overall and 3-2 in South Coast Conference play, while the Warriors are now 10-6 and 4-1. The two teams will play the final game of their series on Saturday at noon in Torrance.

The ninth inning started with sophomore designated hitter Alex Bueno (Centennial, NV HS) singling through the left side of the infield. With one out, freshman outfielder Nolan Brown (Long Beach Poly HS) laced a single, which set the table for sophomore first baseman Matt Den Hartog (Los Alamitos HS). In his first at-bat, Den Hartog lined an opposite field triple that drove in the first run for the Falcons. He drew the team to within 11-9 with a two-run double down the left field line. Freshman pinch hitter David Hays (St. John Bosco HS) moved Den Hartog to third base with an infield out before sophomore catcher Owen Beebe (Long Beach Millikan HS/Golden West College) legged out an infield hit up the middle, which brought home the third run of the inning.

Sophomore outfielder Buck Anderson (Lakewood HS/Cal State Bakersfield) singled deep into the hole at shortstop, which put runners and first and second base. Sophomore Shea Estrin (West HS) then grounded a ball to first base, where Warriors first baseman Neil Feist bobbled the ball, with Estrin safe at first base.  It looked like Cerritos would have the bases loaded, but on the play, Beebe saw a chance to score from second base and was called out at the plate for the final out.

Each time the Falcons scored, El Camino was there to respond until they pushed four runs across the plate in the sixth inning, thanks in part to a pair of Cerritos errors. After Cerritos tied the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the seventh inning with two runs on just one hit. The Warriors tacked on four more runs in the eighth inning. In the Falcons seventh inning, sophomore shortstop Andres Vega (Mary Star of the Sea HS) led off with a base hit and stole second base. After Bueno drew a walk, he was cut down at second base on a fielder's choice by sophomore third baseman Richard Castro (Bishop Amat HS/Cal State San Bernardino). Vega, who moved to third base, scored on a wild pitch, while Castro eventually came home on another wild pitch.

Freshman starting pitcher Nathaniel Davalos (Santa Fe HS) pitched well through the first five inning and allowed two runs (one earned) on just four hits. But he labored in the sixth inning and was hit for four runs before being replaced. Sophomore Nicholas Martinez (La Serna HS) tossed the next 1 1/3 innings before sophomore closer Andy Hurtado (Downey HS/Rio Hondo College) was charged with four runs in the eight inning, with only one of them earned, and suffered the loss.

At the plate, Den Hartog drove in three runs, while Bueno (3-for-4, two runs), Brown (2-for-5, two RBI, two runs) and Beebe (3-for-4, two RBI) had solid days.

Photos by Daryl Peterson