Sometimes it seems that in a blink of an eye, a game can become out of reach. That was the case for the Lancers after just the first inning of a game against Rio Hondo College, when an error with two outs in the inning opened the flood gates in route to an 8-1 rout of PCC on Saturday at Jackie Robinson Memorial Field.
The Roadrunners scored seven unearned runs off of five hits in the first inning, all occurring with two outs. Rio Hondo first baseman Alex Campos hit a routine ground ball to Lancers sophomore shortstop Bobby Fraijo, who bobbled the ball, and Campos was able to beat the throw out by a step. Without the bobble, the Lancers and freshman starting pitcher Zach Britt would have gotten out of the inning without giving up a run.
However, the mistake proved extremely costly as Rio Hondo capitalized by smashing three singles and two doubles off a Britt.
“Zach (Britt) is going to be a very quality pitcher for us,” said head coach Evan O’Meara. “But he’s too young and inexperienced in his ability to overcome a deficit like that. It was enough to shake his confidence.”
While the Lancers only allowed one more run the rest of the game to Rio Hondo, PCC’s offense was unable to get anything going. The lone RBI came from sophomore catcher Jason Clark, who smashed a double down the right field line.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t get anything going,” said Clark. “Hitting with runners in scoring position is always something that we work on in batting practice and even before the game.”
Sophomore second baseman Kai Nakamura, who has scored in each of the three games he’s started since becoming eligible to play last week, was the only Lancer to cross home plate on the day.
Freshman standout center fielder PJ DeZotell, who leads the team in every offensive category, continued his stellar play with a single and a double against Rio Hondo.
Despite the nightmarish start to the game, freshman pitcher Joseph Magdaleno came in to pitch 4.1 solid innings in relief of Britt and allowed only one run.
Fraijo, who normally has been a very solid defensive shortstop, committed four errors in his past two games, including the backbreaker in the first inning hosting Rio Hondo. Coach O’Meara is confident Fraijo will immediately bounce back from this setback.
“He’s been a steady infielder all of last year and through the first handful of games this season,” said O’Meara. “He’s just having a rough patch. We’ll get back to practice next week and start hitting him more ground balls.”
The game on Saturday was very disappointing for the Lancers, who despite losing their last three games had scored eight runs in each of their previous two games. This included a 9-8 extra-inning loss to Rio Hondo in Whittier on Feb. 19, in which PCC rallied from a 7-3 deficit in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game.
The Lancers, now with a record of 3-8 on the season, will kick off their South Coast Conference play against East Los Angeles College on Tuesday, March 4 at 6 p.m. in Monterey Park.
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