Santa Ana triumphed over Golden West on Thursday, March 23, with a final score of 8-2.
In the second inning, the Dons strung together three singles, scoring the first run of the game. Christian Thompson hit the RBI single.
Mikey Rocha extended the Dons lead in the fourth with a long home run to left field. The long ball was Rocha’s first of his collegiate career, putting the Dons up 2-0.
“I knew he was coming with a fastball, based off the first at bat,” said Rocha, “he gave me a first-pitch fastball and I took it, so I figured ‘why wouldn’t he go back to it again.’”
Starting pitcher Hauze Fragoso commanded the game from the mound. He pitched 5.1 innings, the deepest he’s gone in a game this season. He also struck out four, while allowing four hits and two runs, both unearned.
“That’s the best he’s been all year,” said Manager Tom Nilles, “that’s the guy that we saw all fall. He pounded the zone with multiple pitches. We just threw fastballs at ‘em and forced them to hit and they couldn’t.”
Defense stood out in the game for Santa Ana, in a season where that hasn’t been the case. The Dons committed one just error in the game while flashing the leather on several occasions.
In the fifth, third baseman Mathew Dobson laid out towards third, snagging a well-struck ground ball that would’ve been extra bases. He then fired to first, throwing the runner out and ending the inning.
“I love making those plays. I really pride myself on working hard on my defense, because it’s pretty much half the game…and it paid off today,” said Dobson.
Fragoso ran into trouble in the top of the sixth. He faced runners at second and third with just one out. The next batter struck a fly ball to the warning track that dropped due to an error by the left fielder, which also allowed one run to score.
After a walk loaded the bases, Fragoso was pulled from the game and relieved by sophomore right handed pitcher Matt Schavone.
Schavone limited the damage. He allowed a shallow sacrifice fly, which tied the game at two apiece. The next batter would fly out to end the inning.
The Dons responded in the bottom of the sixth by quickly loading the bases on two walks and a single to left field by Marc Schavone.
Dobson slapped a bloop single to shallow right field bringing one run home and restoring the Dons lead.
Thompson drew a walk with a full count to bring home another run. Then, another bases-loaded walk made the score 5-2.
Sophomore outfielder Eddie Pelc broke the game open with a hard ground ball up the middle. It was hit hard enough that it skipped off the glove of the diving Rustler shortstop and into the outfield. Two runs came in to score and increased the Don’s lead to 7-2.
Mario Tostado grounded out to first, but brought home the sixth run of the inning and punctuated the Dons’ big rally.
The win improves the Dons record to 14-10 overall. They return to .500 in conference play with an even 4-4 record.
Santa Ana heads to Golden West College to conclude their three game series against the Rustlers on Saturday, March 25.