As Tony Shue trotted into second base after his 3 RBI double gave PCC a 7-6 lead, he was the only Lancer who wasn’t outwardly celebrating or cheering, a reflection of his characteristic calm under pressure even after the eighth inning hit authored the game’s final score.
Shue watched five pitches without swinging in the at bat before launching the sixth to deep right center.
“He just threw me all fastballs so I tried to catch one to hit,” said Shue.
Compton was five feet away from spoiling the party in the bottom of the ninth.
Nathan Garkow would earn the save, but struggled with his command of the strike zone and allowed hard contact on the inning’s first two outs. He then hit a batter who was awarded first base.
The next at bat ended in a high fly ball down the right field line that would have been a walkoff homerun at Brookside park. Instead, Daniel Netz stood at the warning track at the MLB youth academy and calmly looked the ball into his glove for the final out of the game.
However, PCC trailed for most of this game. Down by 3 runs after the fifth inning, head coach Pat Mcgee discussed the importance of engaging the front shoulder while hitting.
“We hit a ton of fly balls because [we’re] taking a big stride with [the] front foot and getting underneath the baseball. That’s not who we are,” said McGee.
The Lancers brought nine men to the plate, scored 4 runs, knocked the starter out of the game and took the lead in the ensuing sixth. The inning was capped offensively when #3 Jose Jimenez’ 2 RBI double gave the Lancers a 4-3 lead.
Jimenez’ double extended his hitting streak to 22 games, as many as the Lancers have played this season.
The best innings on the mound for the Lancers came from Race Gardner, who entered in the fifth trailing 3-0, but was the eventual winning pitcher. He retired his first three batters in order, and for two innings did not allow a runner to reach second base.
However, Gardner allowed a lead off double in the seventh and failed to regain control. By the time the inning was over, he had surrendered 3 runs and the lead, putting him on the hook for the loss until Shue’s double the following inning.
“[Gardner] did a good job for the most part, he missed one pitch which I think led to the [seventh] inning breaking down, but Race has been really good for us lately out of the pen,” said McGee.
Starter Josh Aguilar was a no-decision and did not get through the full five. However, down by three with a man on third and one out in the fourth, the converted middle infielder induced an inning-ending double play, minimizing the damage and keeping the game within reach.
“I think the infield defense is really playing well, and it has coincided with the success of the pitching staff,” McGee said. They can play with confidence when you catch the ball in the infield and these guys are doing a really good job.”
McGee also said that the team is still searching for a consistent right fielder. Ardon Fryer started there Monday, batting 8th, but was replaced after ending an inning by striking out looking with a runner in scoring position, which has become something of a habit for for the sophomore from Pennsylvania. Daniel Netz took his spot, getting on base twice and tracking the ball well on the final out of the game.
When Netz does not play first base, Jason Ajamian does. The Freshman from La Canada is more than holding his own at the plate with a .273 batting average on the season, but it may be too soon to tell if moving Netz to right field is the long term solution for the Lancers.
McGee specifically complimented left fielder Edward Manzo, who is also earning playing time with his bat. The freshman has adjusted his approach to hitting at the college level, compensating somewhat for a 2-15 start to the year.
“You gotta have a plan. You can’t just go up there and take swings, you gotta have an approach and be smart,” Manzo said of his adjustments.
With his second inning single, Manzo extended his own hitting streak to 11 games.
The Lancers were brought back to reality Tuesday in an 8-0 home loss to Mt. San Antonio. The two squads are scheduled to play again on Thursday, but that game is being jeopardized by imminent inclement weather.