The MCC baseball team hosted Southwestern Community College over the weekend. While the two teams each claimed two victories, the wins came in drastically different fashions.
Game one featured each team's ace as Walter Hernandez took the bump for the Tigers and faced off with Ronnie Wigginton of the Spartans. The two pitchers each threw well and worked their way out of trouble throughout the game.
The Spartans were the first with a runner to cross home as a defensive letdown in the second inning cost the Tigers. After a leadoff single, Ryan Doran stole second to put himself into scoring position. But Hernandez battled to get the next two batters out and induced a ground ball to second base for what should have been the third out of the inning. However, an error allowed Cade Cox to reach first base safely and Doran scored on the play. Hernandez then struck out Chris Palomo, but the unearned run would prove costly for the Tigers.
The home team briefly took the lead in the bottom of the third. Eli Berggeron, who had three of the team's six hits in the game, doubled to deep centerfield with Ryan Carter on first base and two outs. The double scored Carter from first. Candido Encarnacion stepped to the plate next and doubles as well to score Berggeron and put the Tigers up 2-1.
The lead didn't last long though as with one out in the top of the fourth, Doran hit a solo shot to right field. Hernandez then surrendered a double followed by a single. But the slow-footed Jadriel Pantoja was held up at third base. Cox then walked to load the bases up with just one out. Hernandez managed to work out of the jam though by popping up Chris Palomo before striking out Isaac Esqulin to end the threat.
Headed to the bottom of the fourth tied at 2's, the Tigers took advantage of Wigginton losing some control. Nick Hagen walked to lead off the inning and Tyler Coleman was hit by the first pitch of his at bat to bring up Travon Hughes with runners on first and second with nobody out. Hughes was patient at the plate and both runners moved over on a wild pitch during the at bat. Now with runners on second and third, Hughes lifted a pitch to left field for a sacrifice fly which scored Hagen. Ryan Carter then flew out to center field and moved Coleman to third before Reece Blay flied out to left as Wigginton limited the damage to one run. But after four, the Tigers were back in the lead, 3-2.
After a scoreless top of the fifth, the Tigers extended the lead to 4-2 without a hit thanks to a series of miscues by the Spartans including two errors, a walk, and a hit batter.
Down 4-2, SWCC led the sixth inning off with three consecutive singles. Pantoja scored on the third single and Raul Cosme scored later in the inning on a 4-3 putout. Hernandez then got leadoff batter, John Figueroa to fly out to center field to leave a runner at third and end the inning 4-4.
The Tigers left two runners on base in the bottom of the sixth and the game entered the final frame knotted up a 4-4.
Jacob Medcalf took the mound for the Tigers to start the seventh and saw his second pitch of the ball game hit to the left-center fence for a double by Frank Sanchez. After a 5-3 putout, Doran then grounded out to the first baseman, but moved Sanchez to third for Brian Soto with two outs. Soto hit a groundball to short that should have ended the inning, but an error allowed him to reach first and advance to second while allowing Sanchez to score. Now down 4-5, Medcalf got Raul Cosme to fly out to left field and end the top of the seventh.
Things didn't look promising for the home team in the seventh as Luis Menedez and Hagen each grounded out for the first two outs of the inning. Then Tyler Coleman was again hit by a pitch and took second on a wild pitch. Suddenly, the Tigers were one base hit away from tying the game. However, Travon Hughes went down swinging on a 1-2 pitch and the Spartans escaped with a 5-4 victory.
The second game of the series saw another strong pitching performance by the Tigers, this time, the offense did plenty of work to give the Tigers the win.
Jake Everaert had the ball to start the game and never turned it over to the bullpen. After allowing the first three batters of the game to reach base, the righty looked comfortable, if not dominant as he worked his way out of the jam in the first to hold the Spartans scoreless and worked the second and third innings while only surrendering one additional hit.
The offensive output gave Everaert some breathing room as the home team scored multiple runs in each of the first three innings. The Tiger offense was highlighted by Berggeron who scored in each of the three innings after a single in the first, a single in the second, and a double in the third. After three innings, the Tigers held a comfortable 8-0 lead.
The Spartans put some pressure on the Tigers in the fourth though. In the fourth, the visiting team strung together five hits and a walk to push four runs across the board and cut the Tiger lead in half.
The Spartans shot themselves in the foot defensively in both the fourth and fifth innings though. With two outs in the fourth, an error in left field allowed Ryan Carter and Joel Torrealba to score to make the game 10-4 and give the Tigers some breathing room.
After a scoreless top of the fifth, the Spartans again let themselves down with two outs in the inning. After Berggeron and Candido Encarnacion failed to reach base, Tyler Coleman singled with two outs. Ryan Carter was then hit by a pitch and suddenly the Tigers were threatening. Luis Menendez singled to left and the Spartan defender misplayed the ball which allowed both Coleman and Carter to score and Menendez to reach second. Joel Torrealba singled in Menendez before taking second on a wild pitch. Travon Hughes then singled to score Torrealba and end the game 14-4.
Game three started off as a pitcher's battle as Diego Almonte battled Eller Santana.
Santana was touched up first as the Tigers opened up a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after a trio of two-out singles.
It wasn't until the fifth inning that either team would score again as both pitchers were locked in.
Almonte hit a proverbial wall in the fifth inning. The sophomore gave up a single, double, and triple, committed an error, and hit two batters before being replaced by Jimmy Kurka with one out in the inning. But the damage had been done as four runners had crossed the plate by the time Kurka entered. Kurka worked out of the jam by getting two fly outs to right field, but a fifth run crossed the plate on the initial sacrifice fly.
Now down 1-5, the Tigers looked to battle back in the fifth. Tom Josten doubled to lead the inning off and Eli Berggeron, Candido Encarnacion, and Tyler Coleman followed him up with three consecutive singles. Now down just 3-5 and with two runners in scoring position, the Tigers failed to cut into the lead more as Ryan Carter and Luis Menendez each struck out and Joel Torrealba grounded out to end the threat.
Those two runs would prove to be the last runs of the game as Kurka threw clean sixth and seventh innings and Santana escaped threats in both the sixth and seventh innings to throw the complete game win.
Game four saw the Tigers dominate.
The game was never close as David Davilla threw a complete game for the Tigers. The sophomore surrendered only two hits and walked two while giving up just one run.
Meanwhile the Tigers feasted on the pitching of the Spartans as they went through five pitchers in the 19-1 loss in just five innings.
The Tiger offense got out of the gates running as Tom Josten took a full-count out of the park and gave the Tigers the 1-0 lead. Nick Hagen later blasted a three run shot in the first as the Tigers scored four runs in the opening frame.
The Tigers only batted in four innings, but scored multiple runs in each of the four. The home team scored five in the second highlighted by a Tyler Coleman grand slam. They then scored seven in the third as seven straight Tigers reached base and scored. The Tigers tacked on three more in the fourth.
Davilla on the other hand was keeping the Spartans off balance and off the scoreboard. The only run scored by the visiting team came thanks to a Davilla balk allowing Cade Cox to move to second in the fourth inning and he was driven in one batter later as Chris Palomo singled.
Although the Tigers and Spartans split the series 2-2, the Tigers showed some promise with a pitching staff that has largely struggled this season as they never surrendered more than five runs. The Tiger offense has shown plenty of firepower potential this year. Hopefully the two can combine to propel the Tigers to a strong second half of the season.