By Dan Gudino
Two costly errors gave East Los Angeles College baseball a 4-2 loss at home, in the series finale against Rio Hondo College on Saturday.
“We missed an opportunity for a sweep. I feel we got too comfortable with our two wins against them (Rio Hondo) and it showed with our fielding today. We need to get dialed in and focus on playing clean baseball against Chaffey (College, next week),” said ELAC head coach James Hines.
ELAC beat Rio Hondo, last Tuesday, 6-5 and Thursday, 11-3. The last time ELAC swept a three-game series was 2014.
In the top of the ninth the Huskies were trailing 3-2, with Rio Hondo runners on first base and third.
Husky sophomore relief pitcher, Richard Escobedo committed an error when a slow ground ball was hit towards the first base side. It would have been the final out of the inning, but he bobbled the slow roller, allowing the final run to score from third.
ELAC was searching for another walkoff win, like on Tuesday’s ninth inning comeback, but the error proved to be decisive. Escobedo’s error was the last of two, committed by the Huskies.
“I’m looking forward to the next game. I tried to force something that wasn’t there, I need to stay composed and come out with the same demeanor every game,” Escobedo said.
Escobedo has a submarine, sidearm throw, that only includes two pitches, a fastball and slider, yet is the most reliable relief pitcher as he leads the team with an extraordinary 1.14 earned run average.
ELAC ranks tenth in the state in stolen bases with 41 and tends to run the bases well. But sophomore right fielder Kyle Francis, was caught on first base in the bottom of the eighth by Rio Hondo pitcher for not sliding back to first in time.
If Francis was not caught on the bases, he would have possibly been the tying 3-3 run.
“Too many costly mistakes took us out it, even though we were still in it late,” Hines said, “You can’t get caught like that, on a hit and run situation.”
ELAC trailed the whole game and managed to tie the game up twice in its comeback attempt.
ELAC’s sophomore third baseman Matt Sosa, singled and tied the game, 2-2 in the bottom fifth. Sosa finished two for four with two hits, an RBI and stolen base.
Freshman, backup catcher Julian Zermeno was given the opportunity to start in place of sophomore Ismael Martinez, and Zermeno took full advantage of his time.
Zermeno opened the scoreboard for ELAC when he scored freshman first baseman Damien Lomeli for the tying 1-1 score in the second inning.
Zermeno, perfectly finished four for four in his at bats with three singles, a double, a run and the RBI.
“We need to stay confident with ourselves and continue to play with a chip on our shoulders that allows us never to take a play off. We have the tools to play well, but we let off the gas today,” said Zermeno.
ELAC’s starting pitcher Adrian Cardenas was given the loss in seven innings of work and now is 2-4 in the season.
The loss puts ELAC in a three-way tie in the South Coast Conference-North at 6-4 and overall in the season is 13-12. ELAC will face Chaffey on the road in a three-game series for first place, starting Tuesday at 2 p.m.