SAC drops to third in conference standings after loss to Fullerton

Thomas Williams hitting a fly ball to center. Wyatt Tway / el Don

After losing four of their last five games, the Dons were taken down by the Hornets 14-5 on Thursday to bring their conference record to 10-9. SAC started strong, but once Fullerton fought back, SAC had no answer on either side of the plate. 

“I felt like the group quit today,” said head coach Tom Niles. “The moment we ran into some sort of hardship, they caved in and just gave up.”

The Dons led off scoring three runs in the first after shutting out Fullerton in the top of the inning. With two outs, Jimmy De Anda, Michael Rocha, and Mathew Dobson hit singles then were driven in by a double off the wall by DH Kian Sanchez. 

Keeping the Hornets scoreless once again in the second and Fullerton pitcher Matt Romero struggling on the bump, the Dons loaded the bases with one out. De Anda grinded out a walk to bring in SS Christian Altamirano and extended the lead to 4-0.

Michael Rocha and Nathaniel Williams celebrate getting out of a bases-loaded scenario on a line drive to the pitcher. Wyatt Tway / el Don

After a scoreless third, Fullerton found their first bit of offense in the fourth when infielder Diego Franco singled down the right foul line to score one. 

With a healthy lead at 4-1 heading into the fifth, the Dons gave up another two to Fullerton off of two wild pitches and were shut out at the plate on offense. 

Still up one in the sixth, SAC put in Alan Huerta to relieve starter Hauze Fragoso after the wild pitches in the previous inning. Fullerton and SAC both scored one bringing the score to 5-4 SAC.

In the seventh, Fullerton put together three hits and scored one off Huerta to tie the game. 

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Michael Rocha driving a single to right field. Wyatt Tway / el Don

Still in the seventh, Joey Iglesias came in to pitch for Huerta. Fullerton stayed hot scoring three more to bring the score to 8-5 despite SAC changing pitchers once more to Rocco Gurrola later in the inning. 

“The game wasn’t out of hand,” said Coach Niles. “All of a sudden one ball down the line and they are up three in the seventh.”

The eighth and the ninth weren’t pretty for the Dons as the Hornets went on to put up six more runs and shut out SAC to end the game 14-5. 

“We had plenty of hits throughout the game but when we had opportunities to drive in runs our approach went completely separate to what they should be,” said Coach Niles. “If we kept the same approach the score would have been lop-sided the other way and we would’ve scored 12, 15 more runs.” 

With the loss, SAC(10-9) drops behind Fullerton(11-8) to the number three spot in the Orange Empire Conference standings. The Dons need to win their last games of the season against Fullerton to take back second place. 

“We gotta move forward and erase this one,” said DH Kian Sanchez. “We gotta pick it up and get out there at Fullerton on Thursday.”

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