Baseball: First-inning runs enough for the Falcons in 3-0 win

Derek Valdez was voted the South Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year
Derek Valdez was voted the South Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year

In a non-conference game on Tuesday, the Cerritos College baseball team saw their three first-inning runs hold up in a 3-0 win over visiting Chaffey College. The Falcons (29-5), winners of seven in a row and 20 of their last 21 games, won't play again until they start a three-game South Coast Conference series at Pasadena City College next Tuesday.

Freshman pitcher Derek Valdez (Los Alamitos HS) limited the Panthers (20-10) to just four hits through the first seven innings to improve his record to 10-0. He is the first Falcons pitcher to win 10 games in a season since Jared Robinson won 10 games in 2014. Valdez also struck out seven batters and extended his shutout streak to 18 innings before stepping aside for sophomore closer Calix Armijo (Mary Star of the Sea HS).In earning his state-leading ninth save of the season, Armijo retired all six batters he faced. His nine saves are the most in a season for a Cerritos pitcher since Elpidio Martin saved nine games in 2014.

It was the 13th time this season that Falcon pitchers held opponents to one run or less and it was the team's third shutout of the year.

The Falcons recorded all the offense they would need in the first inning, which started when sophomore shortstop DJ Massey (Gahr HS/Central Arizona College) walked. Freshman catcher Alonso Reyes (Culver City HS) drove Massey home with a double, followed by a walk to freshman outfielder Isaiah Rios (St. John Bosco HS). With two outs, sophomore third baseman Anthony Bassett (Colegio Bautista de Managua, Nicaragua/Los Angeles Harbor College) drew a walk to load the bases for sophomore designated hitter Lucas Iorgulescu (Marina HS). He came through with a two-strike base hit, that drove home the other two runs in the inning.

Cerritos threatened to score again in the fourth inning, but Iorgulescu was stranded at third base, while his two-out double in the sixth inning was followed by a single from freshman outfielder Diego Orozco (Long Beach Wilson HS). However, the two were stranded, as the Falcons left nine runners on base.

Valdez held off the Panthers in the second inning after a single, two out walk and double-steal put runners at second and third base. He struck out Chance Kuhlmann looking to end the inning. Chaffey also moved a runner to third base in the seventh inning with two outs, but pinch-hitter David Loera grounded out to end the inning.

Photos by Daryl Peterson