by Jason Burch
The Fullerton College baseball team continued its recent slide Thursday, losing to the Cypress Chargers at home. The Hornets have dropped five of its last six games, including three straight.
The 11-3 loss leaves the Hornets tied with the Chargers at 8-7, in Orange Empire Conference play. The recent skid has seen them fall from the top of the conference into a four-way tie for third.
The Hornets gave the starting nod to Dylan Prohoroff. Prohoroff pitched 6.2 innings, allowing six earned runs on six hits, and walking three in the losing effort. Prohoroff has lost his last two starts after beginning the season with four straight wins, including a 6-0 victory over the Chargers in the team’s first meeting.
“Prohoroff is really tough. I think we did a good job laying off the high pitch and we had a little success,” said Cypress coach Scott Pickler. “We didn’t do that the first time we saw him. We saw the ball well and got some key hits in key situations.”
The Chargers started with Matt Esparza on the mound. Esparza pitched seven innings, striking out nine batters and only allowing three runs for the quality start. Esparza ran his unblemished record to 4-0.
The Chargers jumped on the board early in the second inning when Brandon Oliver lined a single up the middle, and was followed by a booming double by Trevor Meleski that bounced off the left field wall. Joe Van Marter grounded out, scoring Oliver before Brandon Marones hit a seeing eye single up the middle that scored Meleski for a second run.
Dakota Wix got things started for the Hornets in the third, leading off with a single and stealing second. Nick Gotta advanced Wix to third with an infield single. KC Huth, the Hornets leading hitter, batting .394 on the season, legged out another infield single, scoring Wix. After a grounder to first advanced the runners, Oliver Jackson hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Gotta from third and tying up the game 2-2.
The Hornets kept it going in the fifth when KC Huth walked and stole second despite a pitch-out attempt. Head Coach Nick Fuscardo called for a hit and run that was executed by Jose Rojas, who wound up with a single that scored Huth from second, making the score 3-2 Hornets.
After a quiet four innings, the Chargers finally got to Prohoroff again and chased him from the game with two outs in the seventh. Meleski singled, Van Marter walked and Morones was hit by the pitch to load the bases. Jack Flansburg drew another walk scoring Meleski.
The next batter, Joe Duffin cleared the bases with a two-out double, making the score 6-3 Chargers.
The Chargers added a couple insurance runs in the eighth. Morones hit a infield single that scored Johnny Miller from third. Fuscardo came out of the dugout contest the call on the field, to no avail. Then Matt Tietz lined one up the middle to score Jacob Perry, lifting their lead to 8-3.
The Chargers piled it on in the ninth. Duffin was hit by pitch and promptly brought home on a triple by Kramer Ferrell. Then Oliver slapped a single to right scoring Ferrell. Finally after a couple singles Oliver scored on a rare overthrow from right fielder KC Huth.
Austin Sweet who pitched part of the ninth inning in relief was ejected from the game after he exchanged words with the second base umpire. According to Fuscardo, the umpire kicked Sweet out of the game and suspended him for another four games on top of it.
“He said some things, he deserved it today,” Fuscardo said. “But, not five games, I am going to appeal that.”
The Hornets have eight games left this season and six of them are against conference opponents. They are currently sitting in third place, tied with Cypress, Santa Ana and Riverside.
“This has been a tough run and we still have Riverside, Orange Coast and Riverside Valley coming up,” Fuscardo said. “So we have six tough games left. If we want to make the playoffs we need to win at least four of these final six.”