So much went wrong for the Hornets on Tuesday, that you wouldn’t have known that Fullerton was ranked #1 in Southern California. However, just two days later the Hornets made all the right plays and proved deserving of their recent label.
Coming off a difficult defeat Tuesday to Orange Coast, The Hornets baseball team took on rival Santa Ana College on Thursday, defeating the rival Dons 9-1 at FC.
The box score reads like it should have been a close game. Both teams compiled seven hits. However starting pitcher Gordon Cardenas, backed by a solid defensive effort from the Hornets, proved to be too much for the Dons. Their woeful defense finished the game with five errors, while hitting four different batters.
Early on, it appeared as if the Hornets were picking up right where they left off from their last game when they committed five errors in the loss to OCC. With two outs in the first inning, Lane Huffman was picked off at third base to end their inning prematurely.
Not to be outdone, Santa Ana had their own base running blunder up their sleeve. Nestor Linares who was on second base got thrown out on a routine grounder hit ahead of him.
Despite the uninspired start, the Hornets slowly got things moving in the third inning.
After a couple choppers up the middle by table-setters Huffman and Justin Rowe; Hornets hit machine, Julio Rivera, grounds out but brings in the first run of the game.
Fullerton’s tenacity coupled with overall poor team defense from Santa Ana chased starting pitcher Andy Weddle from the game after only 4.2 innings.
Huffman leadoff the inning with a walk and scored on a single from Rivera. Brett Halasz reached base on a routine grounder that the Dons couldn’t handle and came home when reliever Derek Batuyong balked. Then clean up hitter, Oscar Heredia broke the game open with a double down the right field foul line for run number four.
Fullerton really put the game out of reach when they racked up five more runs in the seventh inning. Huffman, back at it again, lead-off with a single then stole second. Halasz was hit by pitch and Row reached on an error that scored Huffman. Rivera was hit by pitch to load bases, then another walked issued to Heredia brought home another run. Anthony Seminaris came though with a single and Garret Basehart’s fielders choice put up two more unearned, making it 9-0.
Cardenas finally showed signs of fatigue in the eighth inning, giving up back to back doubles to start the inning and allowing his first run of the game. Head coach Nick Fuscardo made the call and brought in reliever Niko Castaneda, who retired all three batters he faced in the inning.
“I felt a little bit of fatigue and the long inning, sitting around for 25 minutes is a long time,” Cardenas said. “But runs are good, so I can’t complain.”
Cardenas pitched a solid game, going seven innings with two strikeouts and six scattered hits giving up only one earned run.
“I was getting ahead with the slider and throwing it for strikes, then keeping the ball down,” said Cardenas. “The way we preach, is to go after and attack hitters regardless what the score is.”
Leading the way for the Hornets was Huffman, who finished with three hits, three runs scored, a walk and a stolen base. Rivera finished the game with a single and two runs batted in.
It was the little things that made a big difference today. The Hornets cut down their mistakes and moved runners over whenever possible.
“Coming off the game we had Tuesday, where we honestly gave them (OCC) four runs and really handed them the game. I told the kids I was disappointed,” Fuscardo said. “I think our kids responded and did well today. All we ask the kids to do is play the game the right way and I think we did that today.”
“It sounds like a cliche, but it’s really true,” said Fuscardo, “You do the little things like get the leadoff man on, sacrifice him over, and steal bases. Those are the things you need to do to win games.”
The Hornets baseball team will be back in action on Saturday. Fullerton (13-4 overall, 3-1 conference) will host #5 Saddleback College. First pitch is at noon.