Baseball: Clutch hitting and pitching leads Falcons

Jesus Mercado is greeted at home plate after his two-run home run
Jesus Mercado is greeted at home plate after his two-run home run

Taking advantage of several defensive miscues, the Cerritos College baseball team improved to 3-0 on the season after a 10-4 win over Golden West College at Kincaid Field on Thursday. The Falcons combined both aggressive baserunning, with timely hitting, while the pitching staff overcame an injury to freshman starter Eric Winchester (Diamond Bar HS) and received 4 2/3 innings of stellar relief work. The two teams will face each other again on Friday at 2:00 p.m. with the Rustlers (3-4) serving as the host.

Leading 5-1 heading into the top of the fifth inning, Winchester had allowed one runs on six hits when an injury forced him out of the game. On a pitch to Jeremiah Vison that got past freshman catcher Andre Alvarez (Walnut HS), Winchester came home to cover the plate, but slipped and injured his leg. He was replaced by sophomore Micah Hee (Kamehameha, HI HS), who started the game as the designated hitter. Hee (1-0), who earned the win, allowed one run over 1 1/3 innings.

With runners at first and third for Golden West, sophomore Carlos Valle (Bell Gardens HS) came in to strike out Nick Dayton to end the inning. Valle retired all 10 batter he faced and struck out five to earn his first save of the season.

Offensively, Cerritos got on the board in the bottom of the first inning when freshman outfielder Gabriel Gonzalez (Santa Fe HS) led off with a walk and advanced to second base on a passed ball. He came home when sophomore third baseman Jorge Rodriguez (Bellflower HS) laid down a great bunt that forced Rustlers pitcher Johnny Kuhn to throw the ball wildly to first base, which allowed Rodriguez to advance to third base. Sophomore shortstop Ramon Bramasco (Cathedral HS) made it a 2-0 game with his RBI single.

Three more runs came on the board for the Falcons in the fourth inning on just one hit. Alvarez led off with a base hit and moved to second on a wild pitch. With one out, he moved to third on another wild pitch, with sophomore second baseman Jesus Mercado (St. John Bosco HS) getting hit by a pitch and freshman first baseman Michael Gonzalez (St. Bernard HS) loading the bases with a walk. Hee brought home the first run of the inning with a walk, while a run-scoring fielder's choice by sophomore outfielder Nick Penzetta (Kamehameha, HI HS) and an RBI infield groundout by Gabriel Gonzalez accounted for the other two runs.

After Golden West made it a 5-3 game in the top of the fifth inning, Mercado clubbed his second home run of the season, a two-run shot that also plated Alvarez, who doubled with one out. Mercado added an RBI double in the seventh inning, with Michael Gonzalez following with an sacrifice fly.

Gabriel Gonzalez (two walks), Rodriguez, Alvarez and Mercado (three RBI) all had multi-hit games for the Falcons.

Photos by Daryl Peterson