A team searching for an identity

After a hectic seven-hour road trip up to Union Stadium, Riverside’s baseball team was set to face the formidable Sacramento City Panthers in a doubleheader.

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By Ruben Gallegos / Staff Writer

In the zone- Devin Johnson, freshman pitcher, hurls his best pitch March 6 to strike out a Golden West batter in the 11th inning. RCC won the contest 5-4 in extra innings. (Bobby R. Hester / Editor’s Assistant)

By Ruben Gallegos / Staff Writer

After a hectic seven-hour road trip up to Union Stadium, Riverside’s baseball team was set to face the formidable Sacramento City Panthers in a doubleheader.

What was scheduled to be a three game series between two prominent programs became a one-day doubleheader due to poor weather conditions.

Under interim head coach Eddie Cornejo, the Riverside Tigers split the two game series with Sacramento, losing the first game 6-1 and finishing the second game with a 6-3 victory in extra innings on Feb. 25.

In the first game, Riverside hit the diamond and fell flat as Sacramento City’s Aaron Appino held the Tigers to only five hits through eight innings.

Despite of Eric Young pitching five tough innings and allowing only five hits for RCC, Riverside was unable to pull it together offensively.

RCC’s lackadaisical approach proved unsuccessful as Appino dominated the mound keeping Riverside’s top five batters in the lineup 0-for-18.

Cornejo insists that there was no particular approach to this series other than to do what it was they always do, and that is to maintain an aggressive approach on the mound, and avoid drifting defensively.

“So far it’s a sub par performance for such talented players; they need to play to their abilities,” Cornejo said. “We have to take advantage of the opportunities the other team is giving us.”

Riverside brought the competition in the second game, coming back from a two run deficit to tie the game in the eighth.

The Tigers’ bats came alive in the tenth inning with shortstop David Kiriakos leading off the inning with a double.

Mike Denucci was able to safely advance Kiriakos to third with a ground out, and first basemen Chad Erickson followed with an intentional walk.

With one out, sophomore Wynton Bernard slapped a double down the left field line scoring Kiriakos, giving the Tigers the lead.

Curtis Cassise strengthened the lead as he knocked in a single to right field, scoring Erickson and Bernard.

“We stayed defensively strong,” Cornejo said. “I would describe our pitching staff’s chemistry as positive, but now what we really have to do is harness their competitiveness.”

Cornejo is a former player for Riverside’s Hall of Fame head coach Dennis Rogers, who had recently stepped down for personal reasons.

Cornejo has been with the program for ten years, maintaining the same philosophy as Rogers; in the capacity of creating a consistent approach, which has to be maintained on a daily basis.

“I’m not really worried about how big Dennis’s shoes are, because they are really big, but that I am continuing those shoes in the right direction,” Cornejo said.

“The really good players are the players that find a way to push themselves; who don’t need motivation because they are already inspired,” Cornejo said about their reputation for its player development.

So should RCC be looking forward to a championship season?

“We won’t talk about the championships until the day of the championship, all we are really worried about is tomorrow,” Cornejo said.

Either way, with the consistent dedication on the diamond and continued will to compete, Riverside should expect a triumphant 2010 season.

Strike Three- In the March 6 game between RCC and the Golden West Hustlers freshman pitcher Travis Tomsen battled to keep the tigers in the game. (Bobby R. Hester / Editor’s Assistant)

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