Game date: March 27, 2012.
Opponent: Fullerton College.
In the bottom of the 10th inning with two outs, sophomore Dylan Jones stood at second base representing the Dons’ game-winning run. Fullerton College right-handed reliever Eddie Rivera threw a breaking ball into the ground and Jones broke for third base.
“When I got my secondary on my lead, I was already leaning toward third,” Jones said. “Once I saw the ball was in the dirt, I knew I had it.”
Hornet catcher Drew Luther blocked the pitch beautifully, picked it up and fired to third baseman Jason Nieto. The throw sailed past Nieto, allowing Jones to trot home with the Dons’ walk-off 4-3 win over visiting Fullerton College Tuesday.
“I saw the runner going thought I had an opportunity to make an aggressive play. My guy didn’t block it, but it’s on me,” Luther said. “We let a few get away today and it cost us the game, ultimately.”
Luther’s throwing blunder capped off a day of sloppy, extra innings baseball. The Hornets (8-15-1 overall, 3-8 OEC) committed six fielding errors.
“Today we were lucky. They gave us the game. No question about that,” Head Coach Don Sneddon said.
The Dons (18-6 overall, 7-4 OEC) left 12 runners on base. In the first and seventh, the team hit into inning ending double plays with the bases loaded.
“We have to get a little bit better in those situations,” Sneddon said. “I think we had 12 at-bats today where we were 0-2 in the count.”
In the top of the eighth, with the Hornets trailing 2-1, freshman outfielder Ryan Joyce stood at the plate with the base loaded. Joyce dropped a bunt as pinch runner Aaron Delgado broke for home. The bunt rolled between right-hander Christian Uchytil and first baseman Kyle Kuck, allowing Joyce to reach first base as Delgado crossed the plate with the game-tying run.
“They gave me the sign, so I dug in. First pitch, got the strike and I put it down,” Joyce said.
The Hornets took a short-lived lead in the top of the ninth inning. First baseman Bryan Sothern hit a Matt Blanchard fastball over the left field fence that bounced into Parking Lot 11.
“I was looking for a pitch middle-in, something up that I could drive,” Sothern said.
In the bottom half of the inning, second baseman Trevor Magno lead off the inning by reaching base on a Hornet error. Then Luther erased Magno on a botched hit-and-run play with freshman leftfielder Geoff Schuller in the box. With the count even, at two balls and two strikes, Fullerton righty Dylan Denker dangled a pitch in front of Schuller. Schuller sat back crushed the ball into the right centerfield gap and reached third base standing.
“Coming out of his hand I saw a curveball,” Schuller said. “I was just trying to put the ball in play and get on base. He ended up hanging it and I put a good swing on it and the ball kept going so I kept running and ended up on third.”
Denker balked home Schuller to tie the game at three.
Sophomore Bruce Tolliver tossed five and one-third innings of one run baseball. He surrendered six hits and walked four while picking up four strikeouts.
“I wish I could have thrown more off speed but seems like fastballs got the job done,” Tolliver said. “I just got to work on the mental game.”
The Dons play Thursday, as the team travels to Orange Coast College to continue Orange Empire Conference play.
Other Dons’ Baseball stories and games coverage for Spring 2012:
Game coverage: Dons overpower Gauchos
Rising phenom: Andy Peterson
Athletic profile: Gary Apelian
Scouting report: Pitching
Game coverage: Pirates sink Dons
Game coverage: Dons sting Hornets
Game coverage: Tigers pounce early in conference opener
Game coverage: Seven pitchers combine on three-hitter for Dons’ win
Game coverage: Dons beat Huskies to mush
Game coverage: Dons avenge loss in hit parade
Game coverage: Dons capitalize on Falcon errors
Diamond Kings of Santa Ana
Game coverage: Doubles allow Dons to tie up Brahmas