Stellar pitching and dogged perseverance helped the Lancers add two more games to their impressive winning streak.
In their last game before their South Coast Conference, Lancers pitcher Matt Orozco held the Fullerton Hornets in check for six innings and gave up his only run on a balk. The Lancers offense started in the third with 2 runs, and after a brief Hornet struggle in the seventh and eighth culminating in 2 runs of their own, the Lancers put them away with 4 more runs in the ninth. Relievers Lorenzo Llorens and Frank Gonzalez closed out the remaining innings, leading to a 8-2 win.
The Lancers hosted Long Beach City College (LBCC) for their 2019 South Coast Conference opener. The script was flipped from their game against the Hornets: LBCC pitcher Garrett Rennie gave up only two hits in six innings. In spite of solid pitching by starting pitcher Gordon Ingebritson and an impressive diving catch made by Lancers shortstop Ryan Lewis in the third inning, consistent hits into the outfield paired with two costly errors saw the Vikings ascendant and the Lancers down 5-0 going into the bottom of the seventh inning.
In spite of the score, Lancers morale never dwindled.
“A lot of things went against us early,” head coach Pat McGee said. “They hung in there and they persevered.”
Once the LBCC pitching began to falter, bats began to make contact and Lancers got on base. Right fielder Shane Ogata singled and put runners on first and second, and a line drive to right field by second baseman Andrew Scannell finally put Lancer points on the board, cutting the Vikings’ formidable lead 5-2.
The top of the eighth was marred by Ingebritson getting called for balk on a fake to third, giving the Vikings another run and leaving the Lancers down 6-2 at the bottom of the inning.
Centerfielder Gabriel Arellano led the charge into the eighth inning with a base hit to center. The rest of the Lancers followed suit, managing to get under the gloves of the Vikings’ infielders. With the bases loaded—something unseen in the earlier half of the game—Scannell once again proved to be a clutch hitter, sending the ball down the left field line for a 2-run single that tied the game at 6-6.
Lancers reliever Benny Torres warded off the Vikings with two innings of no hits and two strikeouts, keeping the Lancers’ chances alive.
“We used a lot of guys today. A lot of guys got opportunities,” McGee said. “At this level you need everyone.”
After a rally in the tenth, putting two Lancers on base, Ogata returned to the plate and smashed the ball deep into left field, bringing home the winning run and completing the Lancers’ stunning comeback. With utter celebratory glee, the rest of the team jumped out from the dug-out and mobbed Ogata after he had rounded second base.
“It was a little slow in the beginning, but we’re a good team – I believe in our guys,” said Ogata. “We come back any game we can. We just chipped away.”
The next game of the 2-game conference series against the Vikings on Saturday was postponed to Mar. 4 to due to rain.