Dons avenge loss in hit parade

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Baseball game date: February 23, 2012.

Thursday, the fourth inning under clear sunny skies. Two outs, bases are loaded with freshman catcher Brandon Baxter in the box. First pitch he sees, the portly Baxter smashes a two-run single into left field, extending the Dons lead to four runs.

“Moneyball” this.

“I went ahead and took at hack at it,” Baxter said.

The Dons (8-2) avenged its opening day loss to Palomar, and 6-foot-2-inch right-hander Julian Esquibel, in an 11-6 slugfest that saw 32 hits and 27 runners left on base.

Prior to Baxter’s at bat the Dons retook the lead 6-4 with two unearned runs. The Dons would send 12 batters to the plate in the fourth inning, including eight with two outs, scoring six runs on three hits and one error.

“We’ve been hitting with two outs all year. We’ve had that confidence from the first three games or so,” said sophomore second baseman Andy Peterson.  “Everybody is getting hits with two outs, so we know we are going to be able to do that all year.”

The Skip relished the win, and didn’t hide his satisfaction for a little payback.

“There was a bit of a revenge thing on the line here,” said Head Coach Don Sneddon. “That definitely helps the mental psyche of your hitting. We’ve won every game and our opponents scored six or more runs.”

In the opener, Esquibel shut out the Dons for six innings in the Comets (3-7) 7-0 victory on Feb. 3.

“The guy pitched a gem against us last time. He is there best pitcher with out a doubt,” Sneddon said.

Peterson knocked in the first RBI of the game, in the first inning, on a hit-and-run play following a single by designated hitter JB Bryant.

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“It was a hit-and-run on the first pitch of the game for me. Looped up a curveball right in the middle of the plate and it worked perfectly,” Peterson said. “JB was running right away and got a chance to score.”

Garrett Wilson, sophomore right-handed pitcher, threw six innings for the Dons. He got tagged for five runs and two unearned on 12 hits. In the third inning, Wilson gave up his only walk of the game and fell victim to errors that helped the Comets tie the game at three.

“I think I threw well just, I think I could have got a little more help with the gloves,” Wilson said. “Pety, my shortstop, came over and helped me out. Got me to smile, got me to laugh and that got me through the last two innings.”

With two outs in the bottom of third inning, and with runners at first and third, Baxter stood in the box looking to break the three-all tie. The defense played deep, looking for Baxter, 6-foot-1-inch 250-pounds, to drive the ball. Instead Baxter dropped a bunt worthy of Ichiro, scoring one to give the Dons a short lived 4-3 lead.

“I am confident with my bunting and my coach is confident with my bunting,” Baxter said. “I saw the third baseman was back, two outs, so they weren’t expecting it. I had confidence in myself to be able to put it down on the line, fair or foul, and it went our way.”

Baxter finished the day with three hits and three RBIs.

The Dons play Friday vs. visiting East Los Angeles College.


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