Despite a hot start to the season for Lancer baseball, winning their first six games, the team has lost consecutive games for the second week in a row.
Last Tuesday the Lancers snapped a two-game skid with a home win against Cerro Coso Community College but fell just short to Citrus College Thursday and then lost again Saturday to Ventura College.
The Lancers opened up the season on a high note, winning their first six games. Since then the team has lost four of their last five games and are now (7-4). The team has one more non-conference game ahead before South Coast Conference play begins March 2.
In Tuesday’s game the Lancers fell behind early but were able to edge out a 3-2 victory over Cerro Cose with timely hitting and a solid performance by freshman pitcher Race Garner, who struck out eight while only giving up three hits in six innings of work.
As a team, the Lancers’ pitching did a good job keeping the Coyotes hitters at bay, it was costly errors that lead to extra at bats and an unearned run late in the game.
“We revolve around playing defense, so that is why today it was a struggle because we have to make the plays when they are presented to us,” said head coach Pat McGee. “They’re a good team but continuing moving forward we cannot make that many mistakes”
Unlike the first game, Thursday’s game ended in thrilling fashion but with the Lancers on the losing end.
In a game where the Lancers held leads late in the game twice, the pitching struggled forcing hitters out. A potential game-ending double play was nixed by a throwing error from second baseman Jose Jimenez that brought in the tying run with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning for Citrus College.With freshman closer John Mendoza on the mound for the Lancers, the next hitter singled up middle, driving in the winning run and sealing the walkoff victory for Citrus.
“When you walk batters, you lose games, so that is why we are so big on not walking guys,” said assistant coach Nico Calderaro. “Up to now we had been doing good not walking guys and not giving away freebies, today that is where we struggled.”
In the final contest over the weekend, in a home game against Ventura College, the Lancers were routed 7-2 giving up a season-high 14 hits to the Pirates.
Coming off a game where the team struggled defensively, the Lancers returned to form playing stellar defense and getting runners on base, but the hitters failed to capitalize and stranded too many base runners.
Offensively the Lancers are lead by hard-hitting sophomore first baseman Jeremy Conant, who is on a hot streak. Conant recorded three consecutive multi-hit games, drove in four runs during the week, and puts the ball in play in nearly every at bat.
With the game on the line in the top of the 9th and a runner in scoring position against Citrus, the Owls opted to intentionally walk Conant, essentially taking the bat out of his hands.
The Lancers next game is Feb 28 when they host Victor Valley College in the final non-conference game of the season. With already a historic start to the season, the team looks to finish strong and be ready for their upcoming conference opener against El Camino College March 2.
“I feel we started off pretty good and we have a special group of guys,” said sophomore pitcher Hugo Avendano. “Our record is pretty good so far and we’re even ranked so I think once we fix our mistakes and play at the level he [coach McGee] expect us to be at we’ll be back on track.”
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