By William Hernandez
The baseball team won a pivotal series finale against the South Coast Conference’s first place team and tenth ranked in the state, the Mt. San Antonio College Mounties, 5-4, last Saturday at Mt. SAC.
Saturday’s game was a must-win for the Huskies and they had some momentum coming into it after pulling off a 4-3 stunner against the Mounties, in extra innings, last Thursday.
The Huskies set the tone of the game in the top of the first inning when sophomore outfielder Robert Gonzalez got in scoring position with a two out triple.
Then cleanup hitter Manuel Estevez brought him in with an RBI base hit.
Unfortunately that early first inning lead was quickly devoured by the Mounties, who countered with two first inning runs of their own.
Husky starting pitcher Elias Novelo got roughed-up early lasting only 1 1/3 innings and allowed four earned runs, with runners on the corners and only one out in the inning.
Coach James Hines went to the bullpen bringing in left-handed pitcher Martin Valdez. Valdez was able to keep the score at 1-4 at the end of two.
At the top of the third the Huskies were fortunate to tie it up at four-all due to an error by Mounties shortstop Richard Rollice and a two out, two RBI single for freshman third baseman Michael Aguilar.
After the bats came alive for both teams in the first three innings, no runs were put up until the top of the seventh inning.
The Huskies then managed to break the tie with a two out RBI single by Aguilar.
The Huskies were uplifted by the pitching of Valdez, as he went seven scoreless innings, shutting down the Mounties lineup.
At the bottom of the seventh with one out and a runner in scoring position, the Mounties’ best hitter Jacob Shirley came up short at the plate. Shirley was 2 for 3 in his previous at bats, including a base on balls, battled with Valdez with a 10-pitch at bat.
Valdez got Shirley to strike out taking the air out of the Mounties. “I just tried to gain leverage in the count and once I did I just threw whatever my coach told me to,” said Valdez.
Going to the bottom of the ninth, the Huskies still had their one run lead and after throwing seven scoreless innings, Valdez was relieved by Husky closer Greg Aldrete.
With two outs and two runners on base in the 9th inning, Aldrete shut the door on the Mounties’ late rally giving the Huskies a pivotal victory against them.
“They’re the team to beat and if we can beat them, we can beat any other team out there,” said Estevez, Husky first basemen.
“That’s the second time Martin’s done that. He went eight innings against El Camino College Compton Center, only allowing one run. Today he went after it, kept them off balance, and hopefully we can build some momentum off of this going into the last six games of the regular season,” said Hines.
With a playoff spot on the line, the Huskies hope to continue their winning streak against Cerritos College in a three-game series. Tomorrow, the Huskies will host Cerritos in the third game of the three-game series at Cal State Los Angeles.