Huntington Beach, CA – Golden West's baseball team didn't waste a solid five innings of relief by freshman Eric Romo (Bellflower High) on Friday afternoon, but it took the Rustlers time to find their offensive rhythm.
Golden West scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning – the game-tying and winning runs with two out – to cap a rally and beat previously undefeated Cerritos College, 6-5, in a nonconference game.
The victory gave the Rustlers (4-4) a split of the away-and-home series, as well as their first home victory of the 2018 season.
With the score knotted at 5-5, two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom in the ninth inning, freshman Michael Santorelli (Canyon Del Oro, AZ) hit a line drive off the chest of Cerritos third baseman Jose Rodriguez. By the time Rodriguez collected the ball, Ezele Wicks – representing the winning run – had scored and Santorelli was safe at first, giving Golden West the victory.
Sophomore Nick Dayton led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to right, just the second time in the game the Rustlers had its leadoff batter lead reach base.
Cerritos (3-1) brought in reliever Edgar Velasquez to close the door, but sophomore Logan Mahaffey greeted him with a single to right that allowed Dayton to go to third. One out and two batters later, freshman Nelson Padilla (McQueen, NV) singled up the middle to drive in a run and cut the deficit to a run.
Wicks grounded into a fielder's choice, to cut down Padilla at second and put Golden West down to its last out. Wicks promptly stole second base, leading Falcons coach Ken Gaylord to intentionally walk freshman Anthony Marquez to get to Stephen Fedele. Fedele made Cerritos pay with an infield single that plated Mahaffy to tie the game and set up Santorelli's heroics.
Rustlers starter Troy Bethel was roughed up for five runs in four innings – three earned – on seven hits. Golden West coach Bert Villareal gave the ball to Romo in the fifth inning and the freshman closed the door on Cerritos, scattering three hits over five innings and striking out 10 batters.
Golden West hosts Bakersfield College onThurday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m.