Dons freshman starting pitcher Nigel Ward gave up four runs in the bottom of the first inning to the Riverside City College Tigers Wednesday and RCC never looked back, defeating Santa Ana 8-4 in the opener of a three-game Orange Empire Conference series at Samuel C. Evans Park.
Ward struggled through five innings while allowing eight earned runs on 11 hits and one walk with four strikeouts as his record fell to 7-4.
Santa Ana (25-13 overall, 9-10 OEC) scored in the third and fourth, and added a pair of runs in the eighth.
Dons sophomore DH Julio Rivera went two for four with one RBI to lead SAC.
Riverside sophomore SS Peter McEvoy ended the four-run first inning with a two-run single through the left side to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead.
The Tigers (28-10 overall, 14-5 OEC) added single runs in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings.
Prior to Wednesday’s game the Dons had been playing well, sweeping a three-game series with Irvine Valley College, where four freshman pitchers contributed to a shutout of the Lasers in game three of the series.
“This game was a definition of a team performance, and our defense has been playing really well the last three to four weeks,” Ward said after last Saturday’s win over IVC.