Tigers upset Chargers

By Montgomery Gardner

By Montgomery Gardner

The Riverside Community College baseball team squared off against the top-ranked Cypress Chargers in a 12-inning barnburner March 15. With a record of 1-4 in the conference, compared to Cypress’ 5-0 standing, the Tigers came prepared for a tough game. “Our goal [as a team] is to play every game to the best of our ability,” said coach Dennis Rogers. Both teams were scoreless throughout the first inning, but the Chargers built a steady momentum that began with its first run in the top of the second inning. Cypress scored again in the fourth inning to make the score 2-0. RCC made an attempt to match the score in the bottom of the fourth with runners on both second and third base, but were thwarted due to Cypress’ skillful pitching.The Chargers continued to increase their lead through the fifth inning. The first batter was walked and went on to steal second base shortly after. A ground ball hit right to the pitcher by the next batter resulted in an out at first base, but the sacrifice advanced the runner on second to third base. Next, Cypress infielder Garland Jamison came up to bat and hit a single to center field, which successfully brought home the Charger’s third run.RCC failed to get a hit in the fifth inning, with one strike out and two runners called out at first base. Once again they came close to scoring in the sixth inning when outfielder Wally Crancer hit a high pop fly down the third base line and safely made it to second base. A hit to left field by the next batter advanced Wally to third base, but again the consistent Cypress’ pitching held the Tigers scoreless.In a desperate seventh inning RCC visibly changed gears. The Chargers relieved their pitcher after a hit and walk, and brought in Sean Kalmen. With runners on first and second, RCC’s Pat Walker slammed a line drive deep into left field. Taking a long lead from second base, Chris Hinckley put on the afterburners as he rounded third and made it home to score the Tigers’ first run of the game. Perhaps slightly shaken by giving up a run so soon after coming to the mound, Kalmen balked in mid throw. With RCC runners on both second and third, Chris Nelson and Jason Rodriquez both got hits to give the Tigers two more runs and tie the game at 3-3.The match became a defensive gridlock in the eighth inning. RCC wisely decided to bring in relief pitcher Brian Letko in the top of the eighth to add some energy to the mound. Neither team scored during the eighth and ninth innings despite some very close situations.Still tied with three runs each at the close of the ninth, the Tigers and Chargers went on to play three extra innings.Two great defensive plays occurred in the tenth inning: a spectacular diving catch deep in right field for the Tigers and a skillfully executed double play by the Chargers’ shortstop. Letko crushed the Chargers’ offense in the final two innings, with three strikeouts and no base hits.The bottom of the 12th inning began with a line drive double to left field, courtesy of RCC’s Wally Crancer. Next Sean Lorentz stepped up to the plate and delivered a hard ground ball right to Cypress’ second baseman. It should have been an easy out at first base. What it turned out to be was a wild overthrow. Charging past third base, Wally headed for home as Cypress’ first baseman scrambled to get the ball to the catcher. The throw was right on target, but it arrived a second too late as Wally’s cleats found home. Though the Tigers were the underdogs in this game, they managed to sneak a win past Cypress by a score of 4-3. When asked about the Tigers’ performance, Rogers said, “Well we won didn’t we?”