Husky baseball revives after losing streak

PREPARE FOR IMPACT—Martin Valdez pounds a pitch in his third win of the young season for the Huskies. CN/Tadzio Garcia

By Carlos Alvarez

A victory against the Los Angeles Valley College Monarchs put an end to a three-game losing streak on Saturday with a score of 6-4 at the Monarchs’ stadium.

With an unusually big crowd of more than 100 spectators during a Saturday afternoon game, the Husky offense came out swinging the bats. During the game against No. 6-ranked Glendale last Friday, the Husky offense struggled to make plays and could collect only a total of two hits.

The Huskies hope to continue their winning ways when they take on Grossmont College on this Friday. The attitude changed on Saturday as the team gained a total of 13 hits throughout the game, which contrasted to the 10 hits collected in the passed two games. Coach James Hines said the offense played better.

Stepping up the Husky game resulted in a 2-0 lead after the first two innings. Freshman designated hitter Jaime Figueroa got things started with a base hit and moved to second with a sacrifice by freshman second baseman Jonathan Velasquez.

“We have a great lineup, one through nine, and we have to execute the small things and put the pressure on their defense,” said first baseman Manny Estevez. Figueroa scored in the first inning following sophomore center fielder Robert Gonzalez’s  shaky run.

Gonzalez  was caught stealing, but was able to stay in a rundown long enough to allow Figueroa to score. The Huskies lead grew to 5-1 after a big three-run fourth inning, as they knocked out the Monarch starting pitcher Pedro Santoyo, who was replaced with Monarch relief pitcher Aaron Rosenburg.

“We are far from where we want to be. I give their relief pitcher credit, but our kids have to stay with their approach,” said Hines. For the first time in the last three games, the Husky pitching staff pitched with the lead, and was able to continue their effective pitching.

Sophomore pitcher Martin Valdez pitched six effective innings, giving up two earned runs while pitching in and out of trouble. “Valdez was good today. He came out throwing strikes and pounding the strike zone,” said Hines. Valdez allowed lead-off hits in the first five innings, with only one run allowed.

In the sixth inning, Valdez showed his dominance through the heart of the Monarchs’ lineup with his pitching and sitting them down in order with weak ground outs. Valdez said he tried to go out and play in the seventh, but he just ran out of gas.

After the game, Valdez said he felt good to give his team a chance to win, and that they did. Freshman relief pitcher Alex Barnes came in to relieve Valdez and he ran into some trouble as he gave up a two-run double to Monarch’s sophomore Sam Johnston.

After that, Barnes struck out three of the last six batters he faced to get the save.  “I try not to pay attention to anything around me and I just try to go out there and execute my pitches,” said Barnes. In what has been an early season of close games and heartbreak losses, they were able to hold on for the win.

“I have mixed emotions of this game. We finally start hitting, but we make running mistakes and other blunders. It’s a long season and will be better,” said Hines. In this game, their offense gave them enough and their pitcher continued to pitch great. It was a win that they could have lost.

Hines said they won a close game and that hasn’t happened early in the season, and they’ll take it.

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