Down Goes Goliath
Glendora, CA -- Over the past three years, no team has had a better winning percentage in Southern California than the Goliath that has been Rio Hondo College. That's the large part of why the Roadrunners garnered the #1 ranking in the SoCal Pre-Season Coaches Poll. None of that mattered on Saturday, as David took down Goliath with unranked Citrus defeating #1 Rio Hondo 4-1.
The task was tall, but the Owls were up to the task. The Owls used a total of five pitchers on the day, as they all scattered just five hits and one run across the nine innings. The Citrus pitchers did walk eight batters and hit two more, but each time they got in a jam they were able to escape.
In the first inning, starting pitcher Ryan Ponder got out of a first and second jam, by inducing a 4-6-3 double play. In the second he sat down the Roadrunners in order, but in the third, despite issuing a pair of walks, hitting a batter, and giving up a single, only allowed a single run to Rio Hondo with Citrus falling behind 1-0 early.
With the pitching and defense getting it done, it was up to the offense to produce. That too took awhile to get going, as their first hit didn't come until sophomore Warren Fishback hit a one out single to left field that ended up going nowhere as he was left on first.
Citrus kept chipping away at the plate though, putting a runner in scoring position for the first time in the bottom of the fourth when sophomore Mike Rowland laced a two out double to left field. Again, the Owls came up empty handed, and were forced to wait all the way until the sixth inning to get their first run of the game.
In the sixth, sophomore Blake James led things off with a double up the left field line. Freshman Jason De La Pena would move him to third on a sacrifice bunt, and a deep fly to center field from Rowland would bring James in to tie the game up at one run a piece.
With the Owls finally on the board, Citrus escaped yet another jam in the seventh inning. After getting the first two outs of the inning, eventual winning pitcher Christopher Mourad, escaped a bases loaded situation, by inducing a pop up to Fishback who was playing third.
In the bottom of that inning, the offense finally gave the defense some breathing room. Sophomore William Ouellette got it going with a double to left field. In the very next at bat, sophomore Keith Cooper would lay down a sacrifice bunt, but instead of going for the easy out, the Rio Hondo pitcher opted to try to get Ouellette. Ouellette was safe, and the throw sailed over the third baseman's head giving Citrus a 2-1 lead early.
During the next at bat, Cooper took second, and then almost the exact same scenario played out as it did in the previous one. Fishback would lay down a sacrifice bunt, and again the Roadrunners tried to get the lead runner. Again they were unsuccessful only this time the throw didn't sail, leaving the Owls with runners on the corners.
For the next batter, the Citrus coaching staff went to the bench and called freshman Nick Simons number. Simons did not disappoint ripping a double up the left field line scoring Fishback and Cooper and putting Citrus up 4-1.
In the eighth, the Owls turned the ball over to sophomore Luis Saballos. Saballos was effective in his two innings of work, giving up just one hit and nailing down the game earning his first save of the year.
With the win, Citrus improves to 2-0 on the young season. The Owls will be back out on the diamond tomorrow afternoon when they take on East Los Angeles College on the campus of California State University Los Angeles. First pitch is set for 11:00 AM.