Huskies Rally with Two Outs, Wins Wild Back-N-Forth Game
by Cerwin D Haynes
East Los Angeles College baseball head coach Alec Adame came into this week concerned about opponent LA Harbor's ability to come from behind.
Luckily, East LA has also learned how to come from behind as well.
Facing their final strike trailing 10-9 in the bottom of the ninth, the Huskies next six batters reached safely, scoring three runs to turn the tables on the Seahawks and win 11-10. It's the Pack's fifth straight win (10-9), sending the team over .500 for the first time all season and earning them sole possession of first place in the South Coast Conference (6-2).
As previously mentioned, the Huskies needed their last six batters to reach safely with two-outs, but there was nothing safe about the final three ELAC batters reaching base: DH Daniel Vierra, PH Juan Guardado and 3B Antonio Gomez were all hit by pitches consecutively - more on that momentarily.
The top of the ninth started with Harbor relief pitcher Kent Johnson on the mound in relief, having pitched two innings of scoreless ball while the Seahawks scored two runs apiece in the 7th and 8th innings to take a 10-8 lead. It appeared Johnson would continue his streak as he retired SS Richard Ponce and CF Jason Vela on groundouts to short and was seemingly one out away from his second win of the season. LF Luis Rojas was up next, and in the first of many clutch at-bats, worked himself from behind in the count to earn a full-count walk, fouling off a few tough pitches along the way. C Michael Easter then came to the plate and, already having a good day going 2-4, added to that with a single to left to put runners on first and second.
With the cleanup hitter in 2b Ruben Hernandez next approaching the plate, Coach Adame opted to pinch-run Nicholas Bobadilla for Easter, giving ELAC some extra speed on the basepaths and a shot to tie the game on an extra-base hit (Hernandez has three doubles on the year). Sure enough, the Hernandez hit would looked like a well-placed chip shot that landed right inside the right foul line well over 1st base, caroming away from the right-fielder into foul territory. Two runs would score, and the game was tied at 10. SS Julian Huerta would come in from the infield to relieve Johnson on the mound for Harbor.
Now for those last three East LA batters: Vierra got plunked on the first pitch. Guardado then had a 2-2 pitch hit off his lower leg after fouling off a couple of tough two-strike offerings. The bases were now loaded for Gomez, who had gone 0-3 up to that point and had the chance to be the home team hero. He, like Guardado, worked the pitch count from 0-2 to 2-2, looking to put a good bat swing on the ball.
Instead, the ball put a good hit on him. He took the ultimate "won" for the team by getting beaned on the shoulder, earning a free pass to first which brought home Hernandez as the winning run. The Huskies erupted into a raucous celebration right after Hernandez crossed the plate.
- Easter would finish the day 3-5 with 3RBI. Hernandez would go 2-6 with 3RBI and a homerun to left in the bottom of the second inning.
- Rojas went 2-3 with two walks, an RBI and two runs scored.
- Vierra, LF Eduardo Sanchez and SS Richard Ponce also had two hits apiece.
- Joseph Campos (2-0) got the win in relief, getting the last two outs of the top of the ninth.
East LA goes for the three-game series sweep - as well as their sixth win in a row - as they head back down to LA Harbor Saturday for a high-noon (12p) matchup.