PC baseball loses a heartbreaker
For the third time in four games, the Porterville College baseball team saw a lead turn into a one-run loss, as it faced the Fresno City College Rams at home Tuesday in a 5-4 defeat.
The first four innings for PC — against a team ranked No. 6 in the state by the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association — were all about the Pirates, as the Rams batters went down in order in the first two innings before getting their first base runners on a walk and a single then failing to convert them into runs in the third.
They fared no better in the fourth when they put a runner on second only to strand him with a grounder hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
Meanwhile, the Pirates put the first run on the board in the second when Bryce Telfer belted out a double over the head of the left fielder, took third on a passed ball and scored on an error by FCC’s third baseman on a grounder off the bat of catcher Andrew Lopez.
PC started off the third with a single from left fielder Anthony Estrada. shortstop Christian Hamett laid down a sacrifice bunt to put Estrada on third after he stole second, and center fielder Kyle Verdegaal picked up the RBI with a single to give the black-and-red a 2-0 lead.
Fresno finally got on the board in the top of the fifth when shortstop Anders Nelson took a fly ball deep into the right field corner for a triple and scored on a single.
FCC scored again in the fifth on a blown throw from PC third baseman Dylan Watson that sailed high, putting a runner on second who then scored off another single.
Watson made up for the error in a big way in the bottom of the inning, when he hit a deep single right of center then advanced to third on Wells’ second double of the day. Watson scored when FCC’s pitcher walked PC’s next two batters, designated hitter Tyler Czech and Lopez, to retake the lead.
PC’s starting pitcher Jamie Good was off the mound — having walked one, struck out three and given up one earned run in five full innings — and Johnny Sanchez was on the mound in relief in the top of the seventh when he gave up a single, hit a batsman, then threw a wild pitch to put two runners in scoring position with just one out. Sanchez kept his composure and struck out the next batter, then induced a fly ball to straightaway center field to get PC out of the jam.
Sanchez struck out one and gave up one unearned run in his two innings before turning over the ball to Kyle Stout in the top of the eighth.
But, before that PC scored once more in the bottom of the seventh. Hamett got the leadoff single and advanced to second on a single from Verdegaal. Both runners advanced on an error by FCC’s first baseman, then Fresno loaded the bases for PC on a five-pitch walk to Watson. All three runners advanced on a passed ball from the Fresno pitcher, with Hamett coming across the plate to give PC a 4-2 lead.
And, that was it for the PC bats.
But, unfortunately for the Pirates, it was not the end for Fresno’s offense.
FCC threatened in the eighth, putting a struck batsman on third with a pair of singles before pitcher Dakota Kirkman closed the frame on a looking strikeout.
Things looked promising for PC and its two-run lead in the top of the ninth when an error in left field put a runner onboard. Czech, who had moved to the mound, hit FCC’s next batter. A single loaded the bases and a sacrifice fly cut PC’s lead to just one before a double knocked in two more to give FCC its 5-4 margin.
PC got out of the inning when the runner at second was called out for leaving the bag early on what should have been another sac fly.
PC wasn’t quite done, however. Hamett lead off PC’s half of the ninth with a single, which was followed up by a walk from Verdegaal. First baseman James Lopez moved the runners ahead 90 feet on a sac fly for the first out, but Hamett was called out at home when Watson put a ball in the air for the last two outs.
“You gotta play well for nine innings. You can’t play well for eight,” said PC coach Jake Kiser of his team’s performance. “It’s unfortunate because I thought the effort was good. It’s frustrating.”
Hammet was 2-for-5 with a sac bunt and a run; Verdegaal was 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI; Watson was 1-for-4 with a walk; Wells was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles; Andrew Lopez was 1-for-4 with an RBI; and Estrada was 1-for-4 with a single.
The Pirates will travel to Fresno Thursday for a 2 p.m. rematch with FCC.