By Carlos Alvarez
The Husky baseball team ended the regular season on an eight game winning streak, finishing in second place in the South Coast Conference.
The team earned their spot in the postseason with a win last Friday against the Los Angeles Harbor College, 8-4. East Los Angeles College earn the seventh seed for the playoffs and will face Riverside City College, the 10th seed.
The team that takes two of the three games advances to the Super Regionals. The three-game-series gets started at Cerritos College this Saturday at 1 p.m. “We won’t see too many guys hit home runs playing in a big yard like Cerritos, but for a team like us that can run, it’s perfect,” first baseman Manny Estevez said.
The Riverside Tigers enter the playoffs 18-18 overall, 11-10 in the Orange Empire Conference. The Huskies enter the playoffs with some momentum. The Tigers squeaked into the playoffs after wining two out of their last seven games. “It’s going to be a good series. We have different styles of play,” Estevez said.
The Huskies faced the Tigers in their first game of the season and escaped with a 4-3 victory. “We played them early in the season. It was a tough game,” said Head Coach James Hines. In that game, the Huskies collected a total of eight hits while striking out a season high 16 times.
“They are a power pitching team, but we try to dominate with small ball,” Estevez said. The Husky pitching fared well against the Tigers offense allowing a total of eight hits in the game while striking out seven Tigers. “Our pitchers won’t strike out too many hitters, but they will keep the hitters off balance,” Estevez said.
Sophomore pitcher Juan Vera, led the Huskies by allowing one run on six hits, while striking out five Tiger players in six innings. This playoff series figures to be close as both teams have identical offensive numbers. In 36 games, the Huskies scored 163 runs with a .279 team batting average, .355 on-base percentage and a .362 slugging percentage.
In 33 games, the Tigers scored 176 runs with a .262 team batting average, .357 on-base percentage and .336 slugging percentage. In 36 games, the Husky pitching staff combined for a 2.70 earned run average while allowing only nine home runs all season and averaging four strikeouts per game.
The Tigers averaged six strikeouts per game and allowed three home runs all season, but they posted a 3.38 ERA. “This series might come down to pitching for both teams,” Hines said. Hines will give the first games’ pitching duties start to Vera.
Vera finished the regular season with a 6-3 record, leading the team in victories. In 12 games, Vera pitched 84 and 1/3 innings posting a 2.88 ERA, allowing 36 runs (27 earned) while averaging close to four strikeouts per game. “It’s going to be challenging. It’s going to be a good series,” Hines said.