Originally written for publishing on April 25, 2013
The Hornets baseball team failed to clinch the Orange Empire Conference championship as they fell to the Golden West Rustlers, 7-1, Tuesday at home. The Hornets were plagued by defensive mistakes, and dug themselves into a whole that they were unable to climb out of.
Hornet manager, Nick Fuscardo, knew the defense was a problem but still gave Golden West credit where it was due.
“We have to give them credit first of all,” said Fuscardo. “They have a good ball club over there and they played a great game.”
The Rustlers (17-18, 9-11) broke through for the first runs of the game in the third inning. Daniel DeWolf got things started by drawing a walk from Fullerton College starting pitcher, Juan Berumen. Sean Whiteman then came up and hit a ground ball to Hornet third baseman, Erik Lewis, and Lewis threw the ball away allowing the runners to advance to second and third.
Frank Califano then drove in DeWolf with a groundout, and Whiteman came in to score on a wild pitch, to give the Rustlers a 2-0 lead on two unearned runs.
The Hornets answered with one run of their own in the bottom of the fourth inning. Garret Donohoe and Ryan Joyce hit singles to give the Hornets runners on first and third with two outs. Joyce then stole second and Nick Gotta drew a walk to load the bases.
Golden West pitcher Dylan Mitchell threw a wild pitch and Donohoe came in to score with the runners advanced to second and third. Dakota Wix, who is second in the state in batting average, could not capitalize and flew out to right field to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth, DeWolf reached again to lead off the inning, but Berumen battled to get the next two batters out. Then, Bobby Webb came up and hit a ball into right-center field. It appeared that Ryan Joyce had made a running catch, but the ball dropped out of his glove, and DeWolf came around to score. That gave Golden West took a 3-1 lead. Thomas Walker then came up and hit a single to center field to drive in the Rustlers’ fourth unearned run of the game.
The big inning for the Rustlers came in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Webb and Walker singled in front of Soloman Williams. Williams ripped a double down the right field line that scored both batters, and called for the end of the day for Berumen.
Berumen did not pitch terribly for the Hornets (24-11, 14-5). He went six and two-thirds innings giving up three earned runs on nine hits, while striking out three.
Ryan Romero came in for him and surrendered an RBI single to Nick Marshall, which scored Williams and closed the book on Berumen.
The Hornets will have one more chance to clinch and outright title on Thursday as they finish up a back to back against Golden West. The Hornets need a win or a Riverside loss to win the conference title.
The Hornets will put their ace, Jeff Curran, on the mound hoping that he can get the job done.
“We are going with Curran Thursday,” Fuscardo said. “We are hoping to get five innings out of him, and that will have him ready next week and into the playoffs.”
Fuscardo knows that he needs to have his team ready to battle, in a scenario where one game can decide how much they will get to play at home in the playoffs.
“We definitely need to come out ready to play,” said Fuscardo. “We need to tighten up and not make all these stupid plays.”
The Hornets take on Golden West this Thursday, at 2 p.m., at Golden West.