Walk-Off Homer Caps Comeback for Academy BaronsBy Arroyo Seco Saints July 14, 2018 11:40pm
Article by Chris D’Avanzo; Photo by Tom Stafford
COMPTON — In what was likely the most heartbreaking loss of the season for the Arroyo Seco Saints (12-20, 9-18 CCL), the Academy Barons rallied from a 7th-inning seven run deficit to defeat the Saints by a score of 12-11.
“Credit to them for battling back and not giving in,” said pitching coach Matthew Troupe, who has been working as the interim manager during this series. “You let the foot off the gas and eventually it’s going to come back and bite you.”
Offense was aplenty for both sides as the Saints scored all 11 of their runs by the 4th inning, giving their starting pitcher, Regis University’s Colin King, a comfortable lead with which to work. King threw five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, giving way to the bullpen with an 11-4 lead.
The Saints got on the board first, scoring five runs in the 3rd inning after loading the bases with nobody out. Arroyo Seco nearly missed out on the chance to put together a big inning, leaving the runners after recording a pair of outs.
With two down and the runners still stranded on the bases, Lee University’s Dalton Ney smoked a double into left field to drive in two runs. Ney’s hitting and quick bat speed have been a standout for the Saints all season, earning him the nickname of Big Game Ney, as he entered the game leading the team in home runs. He finished the day 1-3, reaching base three times with the double and a pair of walks.
Ney’s double set the table for Bryce Gray, the catching prospect from Notre Dame, with runners on second and third and still two outs. Gray has struggled at the plate this season and entered the game with only two RBIs for the summer. Gray had numerous family members in attendance on Saturday, cheering him on from behind home plate, and they were given plenty to celebrate as Gray had his best offensive performance of the season. In the third, he followed Ney’s double with one of his own, scoring the two runners and giving the Saints a 4-0 lead, and came into score on an RBI double by NMSU’s Cooper Williams. Gray added a bases-loaded double in the 4th inning as well, clearing them and scoring three runs, to give him 5 RBIs on the day.
The Academy Barons responded with four runs in the bottom of the 3rd inning, with two coming on a two-out single by catcher Joseph Argumendo. Argumendo rounded first anticipating the throw from right fielder Brennan McKenzie to go home, but the ball was cut off by Williams, catching Argumendo in a run down. The runner on third made a dash for the plate with Argumendo stuck in no man’s land, leading to shortstop Colin Shepard to sprint toward the plate with the ball in hand to keep the runner from scoring. Argumendo made it to second, then nearly made it all the way to third, before backtracking as the runner for the Barons made a break back for the base. The Saints threw the ball away, allowing the run to come into score and Argumendo to reach safely at third. Argumendo scored on a wild pitch in the following at-bat, bringing the Barons within a run at 5 to 4.
The Saints hung another crooked number on the scoreboard in the fourth inning. Gray’s double added three runs, scoring again on a single by Williams, and the Saints added another run off a double by Williams’ Aggie teammate Tristan Peterson. With two outs, Cal Poly Bronco Drew Cowley delivered an RBI single for the Saints sixth run of the inning, giving them an 11-4 lead.
King settled down after the troublesome third inning and finished another pair of scoreless frames to get the Saints to 6th leading by seven runs. King gave way to Bobby Fulkerson, who pitched a clean, scoreless 6th inning. Fulkerson returned to the mound for the 7th but ran into trouble. With the bases loaded, first baseman Hunter Lewis drilled a ball of the centerfield wall for a three-run double. Lewis scored on an RBI triple by Trever Mattison, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the 5th inning.
Mattison scored on Arizona State pitcher Luke La Flam, but the run was charged to Fulkerson as he left midway through the 7th. The five-run frame for the Barons brought them back into the game, within two runs at 11-9, and completely shifted the momentum in the game to the Academy side.
“There’s really no excuse for letting them get back when it’s 11-4,” said Troupe. “They scored all five runs in that inning with two outs. They got life in that seventh inning because we couldn’t shut the door with two outs.”
In the 8th inning, against Howard College reliever Reed Osborne, the Barons added another run to make the score 11-10.
In the 9th inning, closer Joey Steele entered the game. Steele struck out Lewis to begin the inning and followed it up by allowing a single to Joshua Banuelos. Mattison hit a deep flyball to centerfield that was chased down by MidAmerica Nazarenne’s Jacob Jenkins for the second out. With a 2-2 count to Barons’ DH Christian Lucio, the Saints needed only one more pitch to escape with the victory. Lucio turned a fastball around and sent it over the right field wall for a game-winning home run, completing the comeback for the Barons. The Saints were stunned as they watched the Barons, whom looked lifeless early in the game, jumping around and mobbing Lucio at the plate.
The Saints wrap up the series against the Academy Barons on Sunday with a 1:05 PM start at Jackie Robinson Memorial Field. The Saints will look to take what they can from this game and quickly put the past behind them, hopefully washing out the sour taste of Saturday’s game with a win on Sunday.
“Tomorrow is a new day,” said Coach Troupe. The momentum is even so hopefully we come out hot on the mound, keep swinging, because we are swinging very well.”