By Daniel Torres / Asst. Sports Editor
By Daniel Torres / Asst. Sports Editor
A story of early struggles, followed by triumphant comeback only to once again return into the abyss that is a 12-7 loss on your home field.
This was the story of the Riverside City College baseball team on April 24 as it fell in defeat to the Dons of Santa Ana College.
RCC started off the game in a manner that a team hopes never to find itself in, down four quick runs, and still in the top of the first inning.
On a warm, Saturday afternoon, RCC pitcher Jeff Murray stood atop of the mound, hoping to walk off with a win in the books.
It was not quite the realization that would come into play for him that day.
Murray found himself being pulled out of the game after recording only one out, but giving up four earned runs on four hits.
“It was one of my rough days, the ball was up and I really didn’t have any command. There was no life on the ball,” Murray said.
The Tigers had ample preparation time out on the field before the game but failed to perform when it mattered most.
The sun drained on the fans as they retreated behind the bleachers into the shade and shelter of surrounding trees.
As the game began the fans eagerly returned to their seats excited and ready for baseball.
The same cannot be said of Murray.
“Warming up I felt the ball was up and flat, and I figured it was just going to go away by the time the game started. I didn’t think anything of it, but then when it got to the game, it was just the same results,” Murray said.
A change in his preparation could have been the reason for his poor performance.
“Saturday’s game I tried to be a little more relaxed. I’m usually a real hard-headed, focused kind of guy. I don’t talk a lot and Saturday I tried to have a little more fun, and I guess it just came back and bit me in the butt,” Murray said.
Eddie Cornejo, coach of the team, felt a sense of angst toward the game. When asked for his thoughts on the game he simply said, “A disappointing outcome to a struggling season.”
Starting pitching has been some what of a saddening situation for the Tigers this season.
“We immediately had to go to our bullpen, which has been something we have had to rely on all season,” Cornejo said.
Their last meeting against Santa Ana, the Tiger’s starting pitcher, Brian Hopper, lasted only two innings, giving up eight hits and allowing an atrocious nine runs.
A definite disappointment in the team’s eyes seeing that Santa Ana’s four run lead would eventually be erased by the help of some clutch at-bat situations and Hopper, who headed out and gave the Don’s all they could handle.
Hopper, in as a relief for Murray, stepped up to the mound and pitched a notable five innings for RCC.
The Don’s got one run in the fourth inning, but RCC’s time finally came in the bottom of the fifth inning.
During that span, the RCC offense picked up their game and exploded in the fifth inning scoring five runs.
“We strung together a couple of selective at-bats,” Cornejo said. “We put some swings together and we were able to create some pressure defensively, which caused a couple of miscues on their part and allowed us to advance a couple of bases.”
Just like that, RCC took a commanding 7-5 lead over the Don’s, a lead that would be short lived heading into the following inning, for Hopper would give up a three run home run.
“He did start to get a little fatigued (Hopper) during his fifth inning and we decided to keep extending him. If he’s rolling which he was, then we just had to continue going with him,” Cornejo said.
To add on a little more insurance, Santa Ana College brought in four more runs in the top of the ninth to extend the score to 12-7, thus ending the game right there, at least for most of the spectators who began to flee.
Cornejo describes the top of the ninth inning akin to someone taking the wind out of you.
Although no one wishes to suffer a loss, some good can still come from it.
“I thought we took some very good swings against some tough pitching, which is something that we’ve lacked down the stretch through conference,” Cornejo said.
RCC finishes off the regular season against Fullerton at home on April 30.