The Hornets, primarily consisting of freshmen, had their first taste of regular-season college baseball on Tuesday afternoon at home against the Mount San Antonio Mounties.
The Mounties started off the game with a strong offense in the 1st inning.
With two outs, Mounties freshman left fielder, Cole Jordan, hit a double down the left-field line scoring baserunners, sophomore second baseman Ryan Williams and freshman center fielder Art Ruiz, putting the Mounties ahead 2 – 0.
Immediately following the 2 RBI double, sophomore designated hitter Cameron White, hit an RBI single to left field and took second base on a bad throw from Hornets freshman left fielder, Anthony Rendon which allowed Williams to score.
By the end of the top of the 1st inning, Mt. SAC had a 3 – 0 lead over the Hornets.
The Hornets were quick to retaliate in the bottom of the 1st with freshman second baseman, Ryan Lamastra, drawing a leadoff walk and stealing second base. Freshman center fielder, Elias Rios, grounded out to shortstop allowing Lamastra to advance to third base. Lamastra was able to score the Hornets first run during the next play when freshman designated hitter, Julian Tellez grounded out to second base shortening the Mounties lead to 3 – 1.
Despite the efforts made by the Hornets to take the lead, the combination of crucial pitching mistakes from the Hornets and relentless offense from the Mounties resulted in the Mounties eventually winning 9 – 1
The Hornets pitching staff hit five batters throughout the game resulting in two out of the five hit Mountie batters scoring in the 2nd and 5th innings.
Altogether, the Hornets pitching staff walked 3 batters resulting in one of the walked batters scoring in the 1st inning.
Despite the rough outing for the Hornets starting sophomore pitcher, David Baer and freshman reliever, Jacob Cespedes. Freshman pitchers, Steve Loera and Adam Armstrong kept the Mounties scoreless for the rest of the game after the 5th inning.
“I honestly feel not too great because we lost, but it felt really good to be on the mound the first time as a Hornet,” said Loera. “The pitchers need to throw more strikes and the hitters need to have a mentality to jump on the fastball as Coach Baum teaches us every day.”
Loera, in the 3.1 innings he pitched, gave up only 3 hits and had 1 strikeout.
Armstrong kept the mounties hitless in the 1.1 innings he pitched.
The Mounties had the advantage over the Hornets before they even stepped on the field. The Mounties, with 20 sophomores leading their team, had already been accustomed to the college style of play and atmosphere whereas the Hornets team was forced to adapt to their new surroundings.
“We’re really young and inexperienced,” stated Hornets Head Coach Chad Baum. “We need to clean up the fundamentals of baseball, not give [the other team] free passes and with runners in scoring position, we have to actually swing the bat.”
Not only did the Mounties have age and experience on their side, but they also had three regular-season wins under their belt before playing the Hornets. Mounties Head Coach John Knott credited their fourth straight win to the aggressive playing techniques.
“We put a lot of pressure [on the Hornets] each inning,” stated Knott. “Each inning we were having good at-bats. There still some things we can work out on the mound and offensively, but collectively we played hard.”
The 2020 Season Opener for the Hornets was an opportunity for the team to figure out its weaknesses before heading into conference games. The team is looking forward to displaying their raw talent in the rest of the season against conference rivals.
The Hornets will play their second regular-season game against the Mount San Jacinto College Eagles on Thursday, Jan. 30 at home. The first pitch is at 2 p.m.